As the Old Man Winter approaches and the air blows with a chill, summer-loving folk deny the upcoming cold season by continuing to wear sun hats and flip flops. However, with 5% to 20% of the United States population contracting the flu each year, maybe it’s time to consider tube socks instead of tube tops.
This flu season promises to be a particularly harsh one, with the entrance of a new strain of Influenza virus: the H1N1, or “swine” flu. Last week alone, CDC has tested 8,268 people positive for Influenza. All subtyped influenza A viruses being reported to CDC were 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses. Whereas the typical flu season starts in late November, making the emergence of the H1N1 virus first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease) in more than 40 years. Additionally, the flu season has started earlier than usual, with over 13,000 cases of the flu nationwide since August 30th.
The signs of the H1N1 are quite similar to the Seasonal Flu, requiring a test to differentiate between strains.
For both types of flu, symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Despite this new strain of flu virus, CDC’s recommendations to avoid getting sick remain the same:
ο Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Additionally, CDC recommends that those at high risk for contracting either type of Influenza virus be vaccinated. Those groups include:
For seasonal flu:
For the H1N1 virus, prioritized groups for vaccination include:
So, remember: When Jack Frost comes nipping at your nose, it’s time to bundle up, keep your hands clean, cover your coughs and get your flu vaccine.
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(1 October 2009) 2009-10 Influenza (Flu) Season: Questions & Answers about the 2009-2010 Flu Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/current-season.htm
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(2009) H1N1 (Swine Flu). Flu.gov. Retrieved from http://flu.gov/individualfamily/about/h1n1/index.html#prevent
(16 October 2009). Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/FLU/protect/keyfacts.htm
(23 September 2009). Questions & Answers: Antiviral Drugs, 2009-2010 Flu Season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/antiviral.htm
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