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Your Health Blog

    All About Influenza

    Dr. Erin Weisman 10/06/2014
    Spread Fun, Not Flu
    We are nearing Influenza “flu” season again. Our office and many around now have flu vaccinations available. The ideal time to get immunized is before flu viruses start circulating. It takes approximately 2 weeks for your body to process the vaccine and make an effective number of antibodies, so getting vaccinated before the flu hits is key. While seasonal flu outbreaks may occur as early as October, most years we see a peak in January or later.
    Last flu season (2013-2014)
    The CDC received more reports of severe flu illness among young and middle-aged adults (about 60% of flu-associated hospitalizations were those age 18 to 64) than any other age group. Many who were ill were actually infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus.
    The brutal truth about influenza
    The flu virus can stay alive on hard and smooth non-porous surfaces, (like door handles, stair rails, pens) for 24 – 48 hours, on porous surfaces (like clothing, tissues) for up to 12 hours, and up to 5 minutes after it gets on your hands.
    Most healthy adults may be contagious one day before symptoms begin and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children can pass along the virus for longer than a week. Typically, flu symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body via secretions or mucus membranes. So this means that you can infect others before knowing you are even sick. Some people try to “fight through it” and this unfortunately passes on the flu to others.
    The most curious part is that some people can be infected with the flu virus but show no symptoms. During this time, they too can spread the virus to others. This is why it is so important to get your flu shot so that your body can start building immunity to the influenza virus. This way, if and when you encounter this bug, you can effectively fight it off and prevent the spread or more severe symptoms.
    Are you “High Risk”?
    The following is a list of characteristics for which we consider being at “high risk” for serious complications:
    • people 50 years and older
    • children younger than 5 years old
    • pregnant women
    • people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (ie diabetes, heart disease, asthma and kidney disease)
    • people who live in nursing homes and other long term facilities
    • people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu (health care workers, teachers, and their household contacts)
    Common Sense Isn’t Always Common Sense
    Please, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash immediately after you use it. Always wash your hands with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Do this often! Alcohol-based hand rubs (sanitizers) are also effective against the flu virus but sometimes these can be very drying to your skin. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Most importantly, if you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC (and most everyone else who doesn’t want to get your germs) recommends that you stay home! While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
    Be Well!
    Deaconess Flu Clinic: Shots are available for all Deaconess Patients.
    Seasonal Flu Shot info from the CDC 

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