Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do What You Need to Do Before Flu Gets You

The nasal spray flu vaccine was designed to treat seasonal outbreaks of the virus. Photo by James Gathany/CDC.

WHAT’S to be done about the flu?

Flu season. It’s on and in the United States at near epidemic levels in early 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency has created a weekly map called "Flu View" that shows the progression of reported cases of flu, dating from October 2012. Red, rust and orange mean high levels; lime to kelly green signifies minimal levels. Visit the following link to see the weekly flu reports, http://www.1.usa.gov/9N0L14).

The map shows the U.S. flu report for the week ending 5 Jan. 2013. Image from CDC.

Flu aka influenza is the highly contagious virus with myriad symptoms, from fever to fatigue. Yours Truly can attest to this. Flu customarily attacks the respiratory system – lungs, nose, throat, so sufferers can expect breathing difficulties. It’s no surprise that those who have asthma will have a devil of a time with the flu.

The flu can be mild to murderous, and it can be especially merciless to the young, old and infirm. (See CDC video below of families sharing lost of children from the virus.)

What to do, then, about the flu. While there is not yet a cure, there are measures that can offset some of the effects of the flu. Three simple prescriptions from the CDC.

1. Get a flu vaccine, though there is a shortage in some places.
Still give it a try. That goes double for high risk, i.e, aforementioned, plus pregnant women.

2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
Three quickies. Try to avoid sick people; cover the nose and mouth with a tissue if the need to cough or sneeze arises; wash hands with soap and water.

Take care to cover both nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. Photo from CDC.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
These drugs can lessen the severity of the virus. Incidentally, they are only legitimately available by prescription, so don’t show up at CVS without one.

Be in good health.

Visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/fluactivity/ and http://www.cdc.gov/flu to learn more about the flu and steps to take to against it.

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