What You Need to Know About the 2017/2018 Influenza (Flu) Season
January 1, 2018 by Valerie Shaw
Assisting Hands Home Care – Phoenix-Scottsdale-Chandler
The 2017/2018 Arizona flu season is set to be on the worst in years. As of the end of December 2017 the number of reported cases is up 758%. The CDC reports the flu is at “widespread conditions” in 36 states with an unusually high number of cases reported in 21 states.
Arizona has reported approximately 2700 more cases of the flu this year as compared to the same time last year (Dec 2016). This is the highest number of flu cases reported by the CDC since it began tracking flu activity.
What is “The Flu”?
The “Flu” is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and may lead to death. Each year in Arizona approximately 700 people die from the flu. Individuals who are very young, very old, or have certain pre-existing health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
The virus is spread by the droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or even talks. It can also be passed by touching if the infected person has germs on their hands and touches another person, such as a hand shake. An infected person can carry the virus for up to 7 days before they experience symptoms themselves. This means they may be carrying the virus and pass it on to others without knowing they were infected.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose. Children may also suffer nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The illness typically passes within a few days but can be especially dangerous to the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with chronic respiratory problems.
Influenza can develop into pneumonia, an infection that causes the lungs’ air sacs to become inflamed and fill with fluid. This can also be deadly to the very young, the elderly or those who already suffer from chronic respiratory illness.
- Wash your hands often. Do Not touch your face, mouth or eyes with your hands. Use hand sanitizer when you are out in public, such as the grocery store. Use sanitizing wipes to clean the shopping cart handle. Use another to clean your hands after you’ve cleaned the cart. (most grocery stores supply them at the entrance)
- If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose. Use disposable tissues and throw them away after each use. Do not use a reusable cloth Kleenex as they harbor germs. Use hand sanitizer after coughing, sneezing or touching your nose or mouth.
- Teach children to wash their hands often. Sanitize their toys, car seats etc. Don’t forget your steering wheel, purse handle, phones, computer keyboards and anything else you touch with your hands or face.
- Take care of yourself! Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, take your vitamins and add vitamin C or other natural immune system booster of your choosing. (consult your physician)
- Keep away from crowds or other individuals who are ill. If you must care for a person who already has the flu, protect yourself with a face mask, wear gloves and wash your hands often.
- Antiviral prescription drugs such as Tamiflu can lessen the severity of influenza for people who have had flu symptoms for two days or fewer and prevent complications such as pneumonia. But they can also have side effects, so a flu shot while you’re well should be your first choice.
If your symptoms last more than three days, or if a child or elderly person has a fever over 101, is vomiting or has diarrhea for more than 24 hours, seek medical attention immediately as these symptoms may become life threatening.