Although many people refer to the “flu” as other ailments like a stomach virus or sinus infection, influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory illness. Getting vaccinated against the virus is imperative, and getting the vaccination early will help to stave off your chances of becoming infected before you get the immunization. We’re not sure how bad the flu virus may become this season, and for that reason, it’s essential to protect you and your loved ones.
Last year the Florida Department of Health reported on the flu season as follows:
“Overall, deaths due to pneumonia and influenza were higher than expected. Increases in deaths due to pneumonia and influenza are also expected over the coming weeks given the amount of widespread illness in the preceding weeks. Most pneumonia and influenza deaths continued to occur in people aged 65 years and older; of the deaths in people aged 64 years and younger, most occurred in people with underlying health conditions (68%).
Thirty-one outbreaks of influenza or ILI (influenza like illness) were reported: 19 with laboratory confirmation of influenza and 12 ILI. As of week 7 (ending February 17, 2018), 420 outbreaks of influenza and ILI have been reported since the start of the 2017-18 season.
The Florida Department of Health is conducting enhanced surveillance of intensive-care unit (ICU) patients aged <65 with laboratory-confirmed influenza. In week 7, 69 cases were reported, bringing the total number of cases reported up to 201 since February 1, 2018. The majority of these cases occurred in unvaccinated people with underlying health conditions.” (1)
Why was Last Seasons Flu so Dangerous? Last season, we saw an epidemic of widespread flu activity. In particular, Influenza A (H3N2) was rampant. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the H3 influenza virus leads to a much more severe case of the flu. In addition, people infected with H3N2 are more likely to develop bronchial disorders like pneumonia and chronic productive lung illnesses. Although anyone can get the flu, H3 is most unsafe for the elderly, babies and young children, as well as individuals with weakened immune systems.
Although anyone can get the flu, H1N1 is most unsafe for the elderly, babies and young children, as well as individuals with weakened immune systems. Consequently, the H1N1 flu virus can subsequently circulate and raise the total number of cases of people infected with the flu. Because the flu virus was so pervasive, physicians were instructed by the CDC to administer antivirals (like Tamiflu) immediately to patients with any indications of influenza, even if a positive flu diagnosis had not yet been determined.
Prevention is key
The best prevention is still, of course, to get vaccinated, because even if you get the flu virus, the vaccine will most likely shorten the duration of the symptoms. 30% of H3 strains of influenza are directly affected by the vaccine to protect you against getting the illness and spreading it to others.
Hygiene still plays a huge role in protecting you against influenza’s harrowing virus and side effects. Washing yours and your children’s hands frequently, avoiding areas with large crowds, sneezing into your arm, wiping down hard surfaces with disinfectants and antivirals, and getting proper nutrition and sleep are also essential to stop the spread of the virus.
Pulmonary Conditions Make Your Risks Even More Serious
If you are someone with a lung disorder or weakened pulmonary capabilities, asking your physician about the pneumococcal vaccine is also a wise, proactive choice. Individuals with lung conditions can include conditions like, COPD, Asthma, smoking, or chronic bronchitis to name a few
When germs are spread, people with lung disorders and disorders of the immune systems are not able to fight off serious diseases like bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, and airborne or blood-borne illnesses. And the risk of hospitalization, suffering from pain, breathing disorders, or life-threatening congestion is all too frequent in these cases, and unfortunately, many individuals die from going unprotected by these important vaccines.
Need one more reason to get the flu and pneumococcal vaccinations? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a caregiver, parent or grandparent to infect innocent babies and children with infectious diseases. If you haven’t gotten your flu vaccine yet, don’t wait, do it now.
To schedule an appointment with a pulmonary specialist, please call Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine Specialists of SWFL today at (239) 985-1925, or ask your primary care physician refer you to their office.
Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep
Medicine Specialists of SWFL
7335 Gladiolus Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33908
(1) Florida Department of Health, Florida Flu Review, Week 7: February 11-17, 2018, floridahealth.gov.