Flu Season Today?
As of the end of December 2017, the flu season is officially moderately severe. The flu is widespread in 46 states. This is up from 36 states in the previous week. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research reveals that flu hospitalization is about 3 times higher than it was in the same time period in 2016. In addition, the flu season started earlier this year than it did in 2016. During the same time period in 2016, only 12 states had reported widespread activity, as compared to 46 states this flu season. This pretty much matches what I’ve been seeing in our office in Florida. About 3 weeks ago, we began to diagnose multiple children with the flu every day.
Why is this Flu Season Severe?
This season’s dominate flu strain is an Influenza A strain, H3N2, which is a particularly severe and causes more symptoms than other strains typically do.
What Are Flu Symptoms?
Flu symptoms typically include a fever and nasal congestion at a minimum. Other symptoms may include weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, body aches, and more.
What To Do If I Think I Have the Flu?
If you are feeling sick with flu-like symptoms, you may want to consider going to see a doctor, especially within the first 48 hours of your illness. Your doctor may be able to prescribe an anti-viral medication against the flu, Tamiflu, which is effective in preventing worsening symptoms of the flu by stopping its replication. However, if you’ve been sick with the flu for more than 48 hours, Tamiflu is not effective.
I Have the Flu. Now What?
Follow your doctor’s instructions. Drink plenty of fluids. Rest. Stay home. Do not go to work, school, religious gatherings, or other community gatherings or events. By going out, you increase the risk of spreading the flu. In addition, as the flu weakens the immune system, if you go out, you place yourself at risk for contracting a secondary bacterial infection, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, or an ear infection.
How Do I Prevent Myself From Getting the Flu?
Good old-fashioned hand washing is helpful, as flu droplets may linger on countertops and other objects. Hand washing prevents many other common infections as well (http://drsilvatotstweensandteens.com/2013/01/new-norovirus-highly-contagious-virus.html).
The good news is that the CDC reports that this season’s flu vaccine strains are a good match to the live flu virus strains that are circulating (http://bit.ly/2CLWaCZ). That means the flu vaccine is providing good protection against the flu by preventing the flu so far.
The best course of action is to make sure you and your children get the flu vaccine. It’s not too late. No one knows exactly when the flu season ends. From the looks of it, it will probably continue for another few months. There is still time to protect yourself. Get the flu vaccine at your doctor’s office, health department, school, or pharmacy today.