The Flu Isn’t Over Yet
Jhelaine Palo | On 04, Mar 2018
The United States has been hit hard with a flu epidemic within the first two months of 2018, and though we’ve passed the flu’s peak, we’re not at the end of flu season yet.
What is the flu?
Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a viral infection that attack a person’s respiratory system. The virus travels through the air in “droplets,” when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or talks. Inhaling the “droplets” directly or touching them can lead to infection.
Since the flu is not a reportable disease and not everyone who gets sick receives medical care or gets tested, the CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. According to CDC, there is an estimated 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations as a result from the flu.
Deaths from the flu are difficult to quantify due to several reasons, such as the lack of testing, as not every person that dies with an influenza-like illness is tested for influenza. Through mathematical modeling, CDC estimates the range of flu-associated deaths in the US from a low of 12,000 to a high 56,000.
What should I look out for?
Common Signs and Symptoms of the flu include a fever over 100.4F (38 C); aching muscles, especially in the back, arms and legs; chills and sweats; headache; dry/persistent cough; fatigue and weakness; nasal congestion; and sore throat.
Risk factors of the flu include age (young children under 5 are more likely to get the flu), living or working conditions, weak immune system, chronic illness, pregnancy, obesity.
How can I prevent it?
Although the flu can spread everywhere, a flu vaccination can help a person prevent from getting the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends different options such as standard dose flu shots, shots made with virus grown in cell culture and recombinant vaccine. For older people, high-dose shots and shots made with adjuvant are recommended.
Certain precautions to control the spread of the virus can be practiced. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently is an effective way to prevent the flu, as well as many common infections. Using hand sanitizers are helpful as well. Contain your coughs and sneezes by covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough by using a tissue or your inner crook of the elbow. Avoid big crowds because the virus spreads easier when people are near each other.