The influenza virus is coming, and it’s dangerous

Wednesday , October 04, 2017 - 4:30 AM1 comment

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s impossible to predict what kind of influenza season to expect in 2017-18.

“While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one year to another,” the CDC reports.

But we know this much — a northern Idaho man has died of an influenza-related illness, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported Tuesday.

Don’t wait until influenza becomes an epidemic. Get a flu shot.

Now.

Influenza is a contagious upper respiratory infection. It can be mild, lasting about a couple weeks. Or it can kill you.

The flu typically begins spreading in October and peaks in February. It sends as many as 710,000 Americans to the hospital annually, the CDC estimates.

Worse, between the 2010-2011 and 2013-2014 flu seasons, it killed thousands — ranging from 12,000 in 2011-12 to 56,000 the following season.

Some populations face a greater risk than others. They include young children, pregnant women and older adults.

People in nursing homes and long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable to the influenza virus, according to the CDC.

The flu spreads easily. Coughing, sneezing or talking can infect a person as far as 6 feet away. You can also pick up the virus by touching an infected surface.

An otherwise healthy adult can begin spreading the flu 24 hours before symptoms develop, then five to seven days after becoming sick.

“That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick,” the CDC said on its website. “Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.”

The only way to protect yourself and others is by getting a flu shot. And let’s be clear — although it’s an urban legend, you cannot develop an influenza-related illness from the flu vaccine.

The influenza virus is coming, and it’s dangerous. Don’t wait. Get your flu shot.

Now.

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