According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The illness can range from mild to severe, and in some cases can even cause death. Certain people are at high risk to have serious flu complications. These people are usually the elderly and young. Being vaccinated is the best possible way to avoid getting the flu. The CDC says that this year’s flu vaccine will protect against a few different types of influenza viruses. The three most common this season are an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus and an influenza B virus.
The flu is most commonly spread person to person within about six feet. Many experts believe that the viruses are transferred by droplets or aerosols made when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. These droplets can be transferring the viruses either directly or indirectly. They are directly transferred when the droplets or aerosols land on or in a person’s mouth or nose. The less likely way of transfer; indirect; is when these droplets or aerosols land on a common area and another person contacts that area then proceeds to touch their mouth or nose.
Multiple sources can confirm that people who have the flu can be contagious one day before they even start to feel the symptoms. Adults can be contagious for up to seven days after becoming sick. This means that you may be able to spread the flu for around 10 days.
There are multiple symptoms associated with contracting the flu. You begin to develop a cough or sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose. Muscle and body aches are also very common. Headaches and fatigue can be onset as well. There is potential to develop a fever or even chills, but not everyone who gets the flu will have a fever.
As we stated before, the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine/shot each year. For those that don’t know, a vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases. There are other ways to protect yourself from potentially contracting the flu and majority of them are daily cleanliness practices like, covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze. You should wash your hands with soap and water, and when soap and water are not available you should use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. If you have been in public or have been contacting common areas (handrails, door knobs, etc.) try not touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. Also try to avoid close contact (6 feet) with known sick people. On the flip side, the CDC recommends that you stay home for 24 hours after you notice you have flu-like symptoms. Limiting contact with others is also recommended. Also, seek medical attention if your symptoms don’t seem to be alleviating. Occupational Safety and Health professionals should be promoting these prevention measures to their employees.
This years flu season is expected to be sever. Just today the City of Boston declared a public health emergency due to the flu. Already this season there have been 700 confirned cases of the flu in Boston. During the entire flu season last year there were a total of 70 confirmed cases. This significant increase so early in the seaseon is the reason for the emergency declaration. Part of the declaration involves providing free flu vaccinations for the residents of Boston.
“We’re off to an early start nationally and in Massachusetts,” Kevin Cranston, director of the DPH Bureau of Infectious Disease, told reporters today before a meeting of the state Public Health Council. While the last two flu seasons have been mild, this one is on pace to be a “moderately severe” season, he said. “This is probably on its way to be more severe than average but still not unprecedented in severity.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this Blog about Influenza Awareness and we hope the information was useful. We are not medical practitioners, and would advise that all medical related questions be relayed to your personal physician. All of us here at Cashins & Associates Inc. wish you the best in fending off influenza this season.