Monday, February 11, 2008

The Flu Has Arrived

The flu virus is now among us. It has arrived late but it has hit hard. A higher than average number of cases has been reported throughout the country. Part of the reason for the increase in this number may be that a new strain of flu virus has emerged during this season.

The vaccine is designed to protect against three influenza strains. According to the CDC, 30 percent of the overall strains of influenza in the United States may be a strain that emerged in Australia called H3N2 A/Brisbane. It emerged too late to be included in the flu vaccine offered in the United States. However, the vaccine may help reduce the complications as well as the severity of the illness if exposed to the new virus. It is still not too late to receive the flu shot.

The flu infects about 20 percent of the population, causes the hospitalization of 200,000 people and kills 36,000 each year. Typical flu symptoms include a high fever of 101 to 103 F (38-39 C), body aches, extreme fatigue, sore throat, congestion and some gastrointestinal issues. The symptoms may last 5-10 days and are much more severe than cold symptoms. See here to assess if you have the flu. Please do not come into work if you have a fever or if you think you have the flu. Stay at home and rest.

Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) may help make you more comfortable. Children and adolescents should avoid taking aspirin. Decongestants such as pseudophedrine (Sudafed) and antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratidine (Claritin) may help reduce congestion and runny nose.

Flu symptoms usually resolve spontaneously. There should be a general improvement by day 5. You should consult your physician if the symptoms get worse after one week or if any new symptoms such as a severe ear pain, cough, or shortness of breath develop.

References: please see above links.


Anonymous said...

Because flu activity is on the rise throughout the U.S., CDC recommends that people get vaccinated if they haven’t done so already this season. In addition, to stop germs from spreading, take everyday preventive actions including frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes. If you get the flu, take antiviral drugs if your doctor says you need them. For more information on influenza and protecting against it, visit CDC’s

Scott Blum said...

Two quick points:

1) If you think you are coming down with the flu, you should ask your doctor about Tamiflu. I've personally had great success in the past and cut both the severity and duration in half.

2) I respectfully disagree with the CDC's recommending the flu vaccine for pregnant women and young children. The live virus vaccine is already not recommended for those groups, but the dead virus vaccine still contains the highly toxic heavy metal mercury.

As with any vaccine, you should also avoid it if you suffer from immune or auto-immune conditions, including HIV, asthma, allergies, autism, arthritis, diabetes, or bowel disease.