The flu season is upon the United States just as expected and it looks like a severe one, federal health officials have warned.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes it is a little worse than last year’s season, with every state reporting influenza outbreaks. Certain Washington hospitals have been badly affected, with patients suffering flu as well as other winter infections.
"We are still a few weeks from the peak of flu season, and then there's the second half of season to go," said CDC epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer.
Influenza A or H3N2 emerges as the prominent strain right now, often an indicator that a hard-hitting season is underway. Not all H3 seasons are severe but a lot of them more, Brammer explained.
The continued circulation of these H3N2 viruses will more badly impact children and the elderly, the CDC warned. The flu season kills anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 individuals every year in the United States, with the very young and very old usually the worst battered by the disease.
A reminder from the health agency last December highlights three actions to fight flu, which could lead to hospitalization and even deaths.
Get The Flu Shot
The CDC emphasizes it is not yet too late to get a flu vaccine, which offers a cocktail to protect against three to four flu strains. The recommended yearly vaccine is aimed at reducing illnesses, doctor’s visits, and missed school and work.
Ideally, everyone from 6 months old and above should receive their flu shot by the end of October. Those who are high-risk, from kids and pregnant women to people with chronic conditions like asthma, should especially get vaccinated.
Brammer said that getting the vaccine remains the best way for flu protection — one may still catch the flu but milder than without getting immunized, she added.
In a recent gudelines update, the CDC noted that a nasal spray vaccine is not recommended because it is less effective than a shot.
Take Everyday Preventive Actions To Stop Germs
It is best to implement the following steps to prevent the spread of germs:
• Avoid close contact with the sick, and try to limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
• If experiencing flu symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches, stay home for at least one day after the fever goes away, except if you need to get medical care.
• Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Practice smart handwashing using soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
Take Antiviral Drugs With Doctor’s Prescription
Antiviral medications can be helpful once one contracts the flu. Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate) and Relenza (zanamivir) are some examples, and they are deemed effective if taken early, particularly for high-risk groups.
Note that antivirals are different from antibiotics, as they are prescription drugs and are not available to be bought over the counter.
These drugs have been shown in studies to work best when started within two days of falling ill.