The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a U.S. weekly surveillance report. As of last week, the rate of death due to flu with pneumonia reached a level above what is considered an epidemic threshold.
In addition, 9 out of 10 U.S. regions showed elevated levels of influenza-like ilness. 47 states have a reported widespread level of the flu.
What can you do to prevent yourself or your family from getting the flu?
Get vaccinated. The vaccine has been available since late last August, so it may not be as readily available. However, nowadays you have more locations where you can get the vaccine. You can go to your doctor, your child's pediatrician, a local pharmacy, or the health department.
Good old fashioned hand washing is helpful, as flu droplets may linger on countertops and other objects.
Lastly, it may sound simple, but stay away from people who are coughing or appear to have cold symptoms. What looks like a cold one day, may reveal itself to be the flu on the next day. Flu is contagious fom 1 day before aymptoms develop & 5-7 days after flu symptoms start.
The CDC's U.S. weekly influenza activity map & weekly surveillance report are available at http://1.usa.gov/VGgJaD. For more information on the flu, go to http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
Swine Flu aka H1N1 Flu has everyone up in arms. Some people are fearful of the disease, others of the vaccine. Every day, after I examine their sick child, loving parents ask me, "Is it the Flu? Is it the bad one?" And if it's not Swine Flu, I hear, "Oh thank God; it's not Swine Flu." I also hear, "I don't know. It's just too new. I'm afraid. Besides, we never get the Flu shot; we never get the Flu."
So what do you do? Get the vaccine.
It's safe. It wasn't made any faster than any other annual Flu vaccine. The difference is that the strain is known; it's specific. Instead of 3 potential strains, it's the H1N1 strain.
Here are the facts. Since April 2009, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted 200 Flu related pediatric deaths in the United States. 171 of those deaths were documented as H1N1 Flu, one of those deaths was due to Flu B, and the other 28 were non subtyped Flu deaths. Let's put that in perspective. In the 2007-2008 Flu season, there were 88 Flu related pediatric deaths in the U.S. Making this season clearly worse. And the season isn't even close to the end.
The reality is that millions around the world will get the Swine Flu. Few of your children will die from it. However, many of your children will get the disease. Your child will have to stay home from daycare or school. You'll lose work. You will wonder if your other children, family, friends or even if you will get the disease from them. Many of you will spend many sleepless nights worrying whether or not your child will be okay. And even after they're better, you will fear the secondary infection that's just around the corner. The Flu weakens your immune system leaving you susceptible to other bacterial infections, like pneumonia.
There's one question you need to ask yourself. Do you really want to sit there thinking you could have prevented this moment?
Go your Pediatrician's office. Get the Seasonal Flu & Swine Flu vaccines today.