Avoiding the Flu on the Campaign Trail

Chris Lee, the republican congressional candidate from the 26th Congressional district, which covers most of western New York, runs several miles a few times each week, according to Andrea Bozek, a campaign spokeswoman.

In addition, Schaffner said September is a good time to look into a flu vaccine because the virus can cause outbreaks as early as October, though the peak season is in January and February.

But staying in bed because of the flu may seem too large a sacrifice to make as political candidates and their teams make their final push for office.

"I'm afraid campaign workers tend to have the 'push on' mentality, probably until somebody else tells them to go to bed," said Ann Wadsworth, campaign spokes person for Alice Kryzan, the democratic Congressional candidate for the 26th Congressional district.

And campaign staff may have their own ideas about what works in the face of illness.

"Pizza," Wadsworth said. "Cold pizza is very good. The antioxidant properties in those tomatoes."

A shared flu can bring out camaraderie during a stressful campaign. Miller recalls being so ill she lost her voice after the Iowa caucus earlier this year. Obama had the same bug and offered her his own throat-soothing tea recipe made with honey and ginger.

Pressing On

At the very least, feeling under the weather can affect how energetic a candidate is onstage during public events. While the audience may not know that the candidate is feeling poorly, Miller said there is a difference.

"He might deliver lines less powerfully or mess up some lines," Miller said. "[People] react to his energy. It changes the mood of the room and of the event," Miller said.

But at this stage in the game, getting sick is simply not an option, whether you are Barack Obama or John McCain and running for the U.S. presidency or a local official running for a state office.

"We can only recommend that if you come down with something, please don't give it to anyone around you," Schaffner said. "But I have a feeling that recommendation may fall on deaf ears."

But both Wadsworth and Bozek agreed that the primary concern for a sick candidate who had to make public appearances was to try and minimize the chances of infecting anyone else.

"This is the season when the winter respiratory viruses start to make their way through the population," Schaffner said. A candidate may not want to present themselves, flushed and sniffling to an audience.

"They might say, 'Give us your messages but not your viruses,'" Schaffner said.

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