|November 14, 2013
What is influenza?
Influenza or flu is a virus caused respiratory disease.
Two main types are A and B.
Influenza Type-A typically occurs in the fall and early spring and is usually more severe then Type-B.
How is influenza spread?
Influenza is spread from person-to-person when droplets of moisture from one person with influenza are spread through the air when the infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Influenza virus can also remain on surfaces and be picked up by people who touch the surface then touch their face, eyes or nose.
How soon do the symptoms appear?
One or two days after exposure to the flu virus.
Most people recover within a week although they may continue to feel weak for several days.
However influenza can last longer and cause life-threatening complications in high-risk individuals, the elderly, and in rare cases normal and healthy people.
What are the symptoms of influenza?
Fever, chills, headache, dry cough and body aches.
Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
The risk of developing severe complications, such as pneumonia and death increase with age, especially people more than 55 years old, or people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, or other chronic diseases that weaken the immune system.
How is influenza diagnosed and treated?
Usually the diagnosis is based on the appearance of classic signs and symptoms or by testing.
Anti-viral medication can shorten or lessen the severity of the flu if given within 48 hours of symptoms starting.
Otherwise, bed rest, drinking more than the usual amount liquids, and taking pain relievers to help reduce the discomfort of flu are recommended.
Children with influenza should not be treated with aspirin.
How is influenza prevented?
Because the influenza virus changes from year to year, it is important to get vaccinated on a yearly basis.
Flu vaccinations are only protective for about a year.
What flu viruses does this seasons vaccine protect against?
Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. Three kinds of influenza viruses commonly circulate among people today: Influenza A (H1N1) viruses, influenza A (H3N2) viruses, and influenza B viruses. Each year, these viruses are used to produce seasonal influenza vaccine.
The 2013-2014 trivalent influenza vaccine is made from the following three viruses:
an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus;
an A(H3N2) virus antigenically like the cell-propagated prototype virus
a B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus.
It is recommended that the quadrivalent vaccine containing two influenza B viruses include the above three viruses and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
Is the vaccine safe?
The vaccine is very safe and effective with few side effects.
There may be some soreness, redness or swelling where the shot is given.
Other possible mild side effects include a headache and low-grade fever for a day after the vaccination.
The vaccination does not cause the flu.
In general, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
Who should get vaccinated?
New recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) indicate that everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the influenza as soon as the 2013-2014 season vaccine is available.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each influenza season, its especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious influenza-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing influenza-related complications:
Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from influenza, including:
Health care workers
Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Where to go for flu shots?
Flu shots are available at THHS clinics and at Community Health. For more information, in St. Ignatius call 745-3525; in Polson call 883-5541; in Arlee call 726-3224; in Elmo call 849-5798; in Hot Springs call 741-3266; and, in Ronan call 676-8778