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Flu Season Facts: Preventing the “Bug” from Striking with a Vengeance

Oct 12, 2009

It’s expected to be one of the worst flu seasons of all time with the swine flu, or H1N1 virus, accompanying the seasonal flu virus this year. Both present similar symptoms including fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache and fatigue. And while most people who catch the virus will recover without needing medical treatment, hospitalizations and deaths from both strains will occur. The H1N1 virus alone affected 33,902 people in the United States last spring, killing 170 people. Compare that to an average 200,000 people catching the seasonal flu every year and turning deadly for 36,000 of them.

“The flu can be very serious for vulnerable populations, like the elderly,” said Ron Gonzalez, M.D., infectious disease specialist at Weiss Memorial Hospital.  “We are advising everyone to take extra precautionary measures to protect themselves from getting sick.”

These Healthful Hints from the experts at Weiss Memorial Hospital explain the steps to take:

  • Wash your Hands.  It sounds simple, but hand washing is one of the most powerful tools in fighting the flu virus. A recent study from the University of California, Berkley found students touch their face once every four minutes. Germs enter the body through hand-to-face contact so scrub often.
  • Stay Home. Feeling sick or just under the weather? Do your co-workers a favor and stay at home. With many people working in close quarters for long hours, germs can easily spread. Spend the day resting and recovering before going back to work.
  • Get a Flu Shot. The N1H1 vaccination is scheduled to be available in Illinois mid-October, but will first be offered to high-risk patients including pregnant women and those under 25. The seasonal flu vaccine has been available since early fall and has been offered to everyone. The CDC, along with the medical community, suggests that everyone get it.