Achoo! Sounds Like The Flu

Tanika Hahn, student-journalist

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People are dropping like flies but the only bug flying around is the flu. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages that affects millions of people each year.

Influenza is highly contagious and is normally spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person, touching an infected person or sharing food or drinks. In the United States, the flu season is typically from October to January.

Medical News Today reports, ¨Adults are contagious 1-2 days before getting symptoms and up too 7 days after becoming ill. This means you can spread the influenza virus before you even know you are infected.¨

There are several ways to avoid the flu. However, not anything is 100 percent effective.

Anyone infected with the flu should not be in public spaces considering they are putting themselves and others at risk. They should not share anything, cover their coughs and not touch anyone.

The virus is easily spread around tight workspaces such as schools considering there is not much space and it is easy for germs to travel.

It is important to stay away from public spaces to avoid it. Although, if infected by the flu it is important to go to the doctor immediately so it can be properly treated.

The flu is caused by a virus so it cannot be treated by antibiotics.

Medical News Today reports, “A doctor may prescribe antivirals, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza), in some circumstances.”

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a vaccine. Within two weeks it causes antibodies to develop in the body which provides protection from the virus.

The CDC said, ¨The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the Influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Traditional flu vaccines (called “trivalent” vaccines) are made to protect against three flu viruses; an Influenza A (H1N1) virus, an Influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an Influenza B virus.¨

The flu vaccine can not make someone sick but it is possible to develop minor flu-like symptoms for a short period of time after receiving the shot.

Not everyone is suitable for the vaccination, those allergic to chicken eggs are unable to receive it.

Everyone is at risk for the flu, some more than others.

Anyone with a low ANC (absolute neutrophil count) is at high risk for infection considering their immune system can not fight off infections well.

Elders are children under the age of 4 are commonly hospitalized for the flu.

The CDC also said, ¨The largest group of people needing to go to the hospital for flu has been adults 65 and older, with the second largest group being children 4 and younger.¨

Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy who get the flu are at high risk for complications such as their blood going septic resulting in hospitalization or death.  In that case, they must go to the hospital as soon as they get a fever.

There are many misconceptions on what a fever is.

Some people consider a fever anything that is a significant rise in body temperature. However, a fever is 101.1 Fahrenheit and above considering even a normal temperature of 98.6 can fluctuate on a daily basis.

The Mayo Clinic Care Network reports, ¨Although most people consider 98.6 F (37 C) normal, your body temperature can vary by a degree or more — from about 97 F (36.1 C) to 99 F (37.2 C) — and still be considered normal.¨

Even though the flu is easily spread and very harmful there are ways to prevent it. People should be educated on what it really is and know who they are putting at risk.