Flu season is upon us. Although seasonal flu viruses can occur at any time of year, flu activity tends to begin in earnest in October or November and can continue as late as May. Here in the United States, it typically peaks between December and February.
2018-2019 Flu Impact (So Far)
Current preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late January show the following for this flu season:
- 9.8 million to 11.4 million flu illnesses
- 113,000-136,000 flu hospitalizations
- 4.6 million to 5.4 million medical visits related to the flu
Additionally, there have 16 flu-related pediatric fatalities this season.
The CDC anticipates that flu activity will continue for several weeks and continues to recommend the flu vaccination. Getting the flu shot can help reduce the severity of the flu in people who receive the vaccine and still get sick. It can also help prevent individuals from becoming infected to begin with. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age or older.
Everyday actions such as staying away from infected individuals and washing your hands regularly can help prevent you from contracting the flu. If you do get sick, stay away from public places to prevent spreading it to others. Antiviral medications can also be used to treat cases of flu. People who are very ill or at risk of serious flu complications who develop flu symptoms should seek medical advice early in their illness to see if a flu antiviral is right for them.
Influenza typically infects the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lung airways). When the immune system begins to fight the virus, it leads to inflammation, which can cause symptoms like sore throat, cough, fever, and muscle aches. Recovery time is usually a few days or less than two weeks, but some individuals can experience complications like secondary ear/sinus infections or pneumonia.
Take care of yourself this winter. If you do experience the flu, avoid spreading it to others and get well soon!
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