With flu season continuously terrorizing Texans, let’s do a brief overview of our current 2019 influenza or flu epidemic. Every year scientists predict which influenza strains to include in this season’s vaccinations. According to the CDC, this year was a good match for which virus strains are currently circulating.
Flu strains this season are the H1N1, which is the most common influenza strain and is typically milder. There is also the H3N2, which is continuously on the rise, is much more severe, and potentially a more deadly type of influenza. All the strains were in this vaccine this year.
According to the CDC, Texas had regional influenza activity during the first week of 2019. Nine weeks later in the month of March we see widespread occurrence not only in Texas, but almost all of the United States.
We are all pretty familiar with flu-like symptoms, such as: chills, fevers, body aches, headaches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, GI disturbances, and etc. The flu is mostly spread when other infected people cough, sneeze, or talk. Also, you can catch the flu by touching surfaces that other infected people have touched and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. One thing that we have to remember is that a person infected with the flu can infect another person 1 day before even showing symptoms that they have the flu. They can also infect another person up to 7 days after symptoms are gone after having had the flu.
Unvaccinated individuals are especially at risk. Remember babies, immunocompromised people, those with chronic illnesses, and the elderly are at highest risks for complications from the flu. The influenza virus can lead an individual to hospitalization or even death.
What can you do?
- Get vaccinated.
- Wash your hands and be aware of potential spread of the virus. For example, keeping yourself or your sick kids at home to avoid spread.
- Prioritize your health by staying hydrated, eating healthy foods, exercising, and sleeping at least 6-8 hours/night.
The flu is not just a bad cold. There is data to suggest that if you still get the flu after the flu vaccine, you will have less severe symptoms and less likely to endure the complications of the flu.
Check out the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/usmap.htm, where a weekly influenza surveillance report of your state can be found and to keep you updated with the ongoing flu spread.