This year’s flu outbreak is one of the worst ever. Here is how you can protect yourself and others from the highly-contagious strains of the virus.
All across the country, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are reporting that the flu infection rates are rapidly rising. Not only that the predominant strain of the flu, H3N2, is considered to be more severe than its viral cousins, but this year’s influenza is also incredibly contagious: just breathing is more than enough to spread the virus.
The reports are worrisome- 30 children have lost their lives to influenza, and the number of those affected is bound to increase as the flu activity is still not slowing down. People who are particularly at risk for influenza-related complications are those with a weakened immune system, as well as individuals with chronic health conditions, including asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart disease.
According to CDC, the outbreak expected to last for another 13 weeks, and it is essential to know how to protect yourself and others from the spread of this serious respiratory illness. The American Lung Association suggests the following:
Get a shot for the flu
Even though this year’s vaccine is not considered as efficient as it could be, getting a shot will significantly improve your chances of fighting off the virus strains. An influenza vaccine will remain effective for circa six months.
Ask for medical help (on time)
Flu symptoms usually appear quite suddenly, but early treatment can significantly reduce them. People that are at risk of complications should be especially diligent in seeking medical attention. Typical flu symptoms you should pay attention to are:
- High fever
- Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
- Cough (usually dry)
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
Keep your germs to yourself
In case you already have the flu, try not to spread it around. In general, a person is considered highly contagious in the period that starts a day before they first notice symptoms, and about a week after that. While you’re sick, cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing, wash your hands regularly, and disinfect any potentially contaminated objects and surfaces.
This flu is not just another bad cold: it can quickly become a life-threatening problem for people who are more prone to respiratory issues. Make sure to get the influenza vaccine and follow the ALA’s tips to stay safe during the flu season.
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