WiRED Warns 2018 Influenza Season Could Be Severe

BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW AND BERNICE BORN

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lu season is here and already claiming victims.

 

A flu vaccine, which offers the only protection, is still the first defense. In addition, WiRED International urges everyone to read through its Flu Module for general audiences and practice what you learn from its important information. Even if you get the illness, you will be better off if you are flu-savvy — as some flu-stricken members of WiRED’s staff have found.

 

WiRED offers two flu health-education modules in its Health Learning Center: one for healthcare professionals and one for general audiences. The general audience module describes the flu, discusses who is at highest risk, how to prevent the flu and how to treat it. The module designed for healthcare workers and other health professionals offers a detailed examination of the three virus types that cause the flu. The course looks at issues such as virus structure, antigenic drift and antigenic shifting, compares seasonal and pandemic influenza, and presents additional resources for further study.

 

Daniel B. Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H., is the director of the influenza division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a recent press conference, Dr. Jernigan said, “There’s widespread [flu] activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point. H3N2 [is] the predominant strain, a strain that’s going to be associated with more cases, and it’s going to be associated with more hospitalizations, and it is associated with more deaths. This is a bad flu season. We don’t know if it will be a high severity season or not, but all the more reason to take precautions. Get your vaccine. If you are sick, and, certainly, if you have underlying conditions, be sure to talk with your doctor about anti-viral drugs.”

 

WiRED International urges everyone to read through its Flu Module for general audiences and practice what you learn from its important information.

Worldwide, annual flu epidemics are estimated to result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 290,000 to 650,000 deaths. It isn’t too late to get your flu shot. It can take up to three weeks for the vaccine to build up the body’s immunity, so be sure to schedule your flu shot without delay.

 

 

 

 

 


What is the Flu?

Influenza or flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by several viruses. Flu resembles the common cold, because it infects the same organs (nose, throat, lungs) and has similar symptoms. However, the flu can cause additional symptoms and become much more severe than most common colds. Some high-risk groups are especially vulnerable to complications from the flu. These groups include children younger than two years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, lung disease and heart disease.

 

Antiviral drugs are no substitute for vaccinations, but they offer an important second line of defense. Getting prompt treatment with antiviral drugs and staying home will lessen the duration of the flu by several days. This is especially important for members of high-risk groups. It is worth noting that antibiotics do nothing to address the flu, because antibiotics address bacterial infections, and the flu is a viral infection.

 

 


Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do get a flu shot
  • Do wash your hands properly and regularly
  • Do avoid sick people
  • Do cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing
  • Do get antiviral drugs promptly when sick
  • Do keep hydrated and get lots of rest
  • Don’t take antibiotics (flu is caused by a virus, not a bacteria)
  • Don’t smoke
  • Don’t overload with cold remedies or exercise

 

 

Test your flu IQ with sample questions from WiRED’s module.

 

1. TRUE or FALSE? Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

 True
 False

2. How long can people infect others after becoming sick with the flu virus?

 10 to 12 days
 1 to 2 days
 5 to 7 days
 2 to 3 days

3. How are flu viruses mainly spread?

 Through insect bites
 By water droplets infected with the virus
 Through food infected with the virus
 By touching something with the virus on it

 

 

 

 

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