The H1N1 flu strand has accounted for the majority of cases across the U.S. this flu season. The H1N1 strand was responsible for deaths from all over the world during the 2009 flu season. So far for the 2013 flu season, there have been 32 deaths reported in the U.S., in which six involved children. The flu has drastically peaked in both the Southern and Southeastern Regions, which include Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia and North Carolina. California and Arizona have reported only minimal cases of influenza. The Northeastern Region, including the New England states, also has not reported a major flu outbreak. Though the flu virus has not been labeled a pandemic for this season, more people are prone to the H1N1 virus strand and have to miss work for being sick. Children also have to stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others.
To safeguard against the flu, it is important to be educated about flu symptoms in order to properly recognize it. Flu symptoms can include body aches, chills, high fever and scratchy throat. If not properly treated, the symptoms will worsen and include runny and stuffy nose, and sneezing.
Despite the wide spread of the flu in the U.S., health experts say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. A flu shot is a surefire way to prevent getting influenza. This is also true for people with weak immune systems due to an underlying illness. Children, the elderly and pregnant women are urged to get the flu shot to prevent complications. For those who already have the flu, antiviral treatment can help combat flu symptoms. In addition, other ways to avoid spreading the flu to others include:
- Always wash hands using antibacterial soap and warm water. An alternative to soap and water is using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Always wash hands after using the restroom, especially a public restroom. If a person is working in the food industry, it’s definitely a priority to wash hands.
- Use hand sanitizer after pumping gas in an automobile; a variety of people touch gas nozzles at gas pumps.
- Visit a healthcare provider immediately if flu-like symptoms are noticeable.
- Stay home until flu symptoms are gone. This is especially important if a person’s job involves constant people interaction and touching office equipment.
- Keep children home if they are sick.
- Use disinfect wipes to clean shared areas and always wash hands if living with someone who has the flu.
- Wear a face make to prevent the flu from spreading by coughing and sneezing in the event that a person must go to work or school.
- Wash hands or use hand sanitizer after holding hands or shaking hands with people.
As the H1N1 flu strand continues to spread across the U.S., it’s important to protect the immune system from the flu virus and show respect for others by staying home if experiencing flu symptoms.
By Bridget Cunningham