The 17-18 influenza virus became widespread throughout the United States during January 2018. This past flu season caught many people off guard because the flu vaccine wasn’t effective against this year strain. One of the most critical places to prevent the flu from spreading is school systems providing grades K-12. Within these school systems, there are approximately 55 million students and 7 million staff members. These numbers turn out to be one-fifth of the country’s population. There are many ways the CDC is advising schools to help reduce the spread of the flu.
The flu virus is known to spread through coughing, sneezing, and touching surfaces. But new research from the University of Maryland in College Park shows something new. People with the flu can spread the virus into the air around them just by breathing. Their research shows those who are infected with the virus generate tiny droplets that stay suspended within the air for a long time. This is true even when they aren't coughing or sneezing and happens the most within the first few days of illness.
An onslaught of a deadly and quickly mutating strain of the flu has affected the Southern Hemisphere as well as parts of Australia this year. Influenza A, caused by the H3N2 virus, is the flu subtype wreaking havoc on these areas, especially in Australia. The H3N2 virus triggers outbreaks of influenza A and B that circulate among individuals. Flu seasons are undeniably miserable when this virus dominates. Statistics from the Immunisation Coalition “show there was a 156% increase in confirmed cases of influenza in August this year when compared to the same time last year.”
We know and accept that germs are spread each and every place that we go. Those germs that cause the flu are even more apparent from October to May. There is however a difference year after year in how many people are affected by the virus.
Each year, flu season hits and it seems like everyone is getting sick at some point or another. While the general public gets mostly mild symptoms of illness and recovers quickly, others are not so lucky. For people 65 or above and children younger than 5 with weak immune defenses, they are at more of a risk for developing serious problems in combination with influenza. Some examples of these issues would be Pneumonia, Bronchitis, and both sinus and ear infections.
Although it is rare that people die from getting the flu, it does happen, as Carey Goldberg talks about in her recent article she posted on wbur.org. People do not die from just the flu alone, but from what it brings on and how it affects our body. When people get sick, influenza weakens the immune system, which opens the door for other viruses to hit.
Your own two hands are the first line of defense when trying to avoid the flu virus for six months of the year. The flu can so easily maneuver its way from one surface to the next, and the next, and then to your hands. Once the flu gets on your hands it can survive for 15 minutes.
Do you know how you should be fighting the flu? If not, meet the 5 Flu Fighters.
Picture this: you are sitting down at your desk at work. You hear a sneeze sneak out from your co-worker a few desks over, followed by an eruption of "bless you's" and that one guy that yells out "gesundheit." You suddenly self-examine to see if you feel a small sniffle yourself, check your throat for scratchiness. Do you ever wonder how far the germs from that one sneeze (or a cough) can travel? Stay tuned as we discuss.