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Flu Invades BV West

Flu season is well-underway and things are looking grim

Jacob Braun, Reporter

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It starts with a sore throat, then it progresses to a fever, followed by a headache and body aches, finally leading to an overall feeling of congestion and soreness. Influenza, commonly known as “the flu”, is an annual burden that often affects much of the country.

This winter season seems to be one of the hardest flu seasons in recent years. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the number of flu cases is up 200% from what it was last year at this time. At least 46 states have reported widespread flu occurrences, with much of the West Coast and Midwest reporting “high flu activity”.

To make matters worse, experts are now saying this year’s influenza vaccination is only 30% effective at preventing the flu. While this may deter people from getting the flu shot, it is still strongly encouraged to get the vaccination, as it may lessen the effects of the flu. Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for the body to produce antibodies needed to fight against the virus.

So why has this year been so catastrophic? Scientists currently believe that recent cold weather has been an optimal environment for the virus to spread. With colder air and lower humidity, the flu virus is able to stay airborne and active for longer. That, as well as the fact that people are staying indoors, have increased the severity of this epidemic. Germs are easier to spread in a smaller vicinity, so often-touched household items become the perfect targets for the virus.

Now that it seems almost inevitable, is there anything that can be done to halt the flu’s advancement? Of course! If not yet vaccinated, get a flu shot as soon as possible. While the active strain may not be the one prevented by the vaccine, it is still better to have some immunity than none at all.

If symptoms begin to develop, go to a walk-in clinic to get tested for influenza. There are two main types: influenza A and influenza B. Influenza A is often associated with longer, more-severe cases lasting from one to two weeks. Influenza B, on the other hand, can be severe but is often affiliated with being an overall milder case than the former. Regardless of the type diagnosed, a medical professional can prescribe medication to undermine the effects of the flu.

If the test comes back positive, stay home! Sleep is crucial to renew the energy used by the body to fight any intruder. Likewise, time is the ultimate healer for the flu, so sleep allows the body to work effectively. Take medications to combat symptoms and drink lots of water to rehydrate the body. But most importantly, stay away from other people out of courtesy. It takes being 48 hours fever-free, without the aid of medication, until a person is no longer contagious.

Regardless of current health, there are things everyone can do to stay healthy. The most important of which is washing one’s hands. According to the CDC, “washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.”

So try to stay healthy and take some responsibility in working to minimize the flu’s impact on the general public. And if the symptoms begin to develop, take action, get some rest, and know that this too shall pass.

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