This YearÛªs Flu Season May Be Deadly ÛÒWhat You Can Do to Protect Loved Ones
January 12, 2015 (Jamaica, NY)-The flu season began earlier than anticipated this year and it is being reported that 43 states have experienced high or widespread flu activity. There are several indications that young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems can be severely affected. The H3N2 strain of the flu virus has been found in 90% of flu cases so far and is associated with the largest amounts of hospitalizations and deaths. Since the beginning of the flu season 26 children have died from complications and large numbers of people have flocked to emergency rooms or doctorÛªs offices seeking treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is anticipating that flu activity will continue to increase in severity and expand geographically. Caregivers of children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems, are being urged to stay on high alert for flu symptoms and take the proper preventative measures against spreading or contracting the virus.
Symptoms to look for include: fever, sore throat, coughs, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children). If these symptoms are not treated immediately, they can cause more severe complications such as bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, congestive heart failure, ear infections and asthma.
The flu virus is contagious. An infected person can spread the virus one day before symptoms appear and five to seven days after becoming sick. Symptoms start to show up one to four days after the virus enters the body. The flu virus enters the body through the mucus membranes of the eyes, nose or mouth.
There are several ways to reduce the risks of spreading or contracting the flu. It is advised to keep loved ones away from others who are sick. Avoid touching hands, mouths and eyes. Frequently wash hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based sterilizer. Cover mouths or noses with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Clean and disinfect surfaces that are prone to collect germs. If your loved one has contracted the virus keep them away from others who are not sick. The CDC recommends that children who are over the ages of six months old receive the flu vaccination. This is the best way to fight the flu.
Although this yearÛªs flu vaccination is not matched for the H3N2 sub-type; the CDC advises that receiving it will still offer some protection, lessen the severity of the symptoms and reduce the chances of hospitalization. Experts say that flu vaccine can reduce the risk of doctor’s visits by about 60%. The CDC also ÛÏrecommends flu antiviral drugs for treatment of influenza illness in people who are very sick with flu or people with the flu who are at high risk of serious flu complicationsÛ(CDC.gov)
Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and eastern Brooklyn. This 424-bed medical center is an accredited community teaching hospital with a large network of community-based ambulatory care centers. JHMC offers an array of acute inpatient, rehabilitation and mental health services, and is one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in New York City. The hospital provides general medical, pediatric, and dental services, in addition to home health services. Jamaica Hospital Medical CenterÛªs mission is to serve patients and the community in a way that is second to none. To speak with a doctor from Jamaica Hospital about the effects of this yearÛªs flu season please contact Public Affairs at 718-206-6020.