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‘Tis the Season of Influenza: Flu outbreak causes concern to population

Natasa Dobras, Staff Writer

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It’s the annual flu season, which is usually easily preventable due to the easy access to flu shots; however, this year the flu virus is very aggressive.

Since the beginning of the flu season in October, there have been over 14,000 hospitalizations for the flu, exceeding the last severe season that occurred in 2014-2015. With more cases of death occurring due to flu complications, it is important to understand what the flu is and how to prevent it.

Influenza, otherwise known as the flu, is a common viral infection that can turn deadly in high-risk groups. Symptoms of the flu include fever, fatigue, chills, body aches, dehydration, loss of appetite, congestion, coughing, and sometimes breathing discomfort. Although most people experience fever as a common symptom of the flu, the CDC warns that in some cases of the flu people do not experience a fever. Normally the flu is self-treatable by drinking lots of fluids and resting; however, Tamiflu is a drug that is often prescribed to people to treat the flu or prevent it.

The best way to prevent obtaining the flu is to get a flu shot every year that is altered in order to protect against prevalent strains, but the flu shot does not prevent every strain of the flu. According to the CDC, the flu shot reduces risk by 40-60%. The flu season has been occurring for a couple of months now but the CDC said it is not too late to receive a flu vaccination.

Another way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands and avoid contact with people who are sick with the flu. The flu is easily spread through coughs and sneezes, skin-to-skin contact, saliva, and touching a contaminated surface, so it is important to continuously wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.

Since the flu is easily contractible, many schools have begun to shut down due to high cases of the flu in students. If you obtain the flu, it is important to miss school in order to rest and avoid contaminating your peers.

To prevent complications of the flu, see a doctor if a fever does not subside or breathing becomes trouble within 48 hours of contracting the flu. Another complication to look out for is sepsis, a life-threatening complication of an infection. Symptoms of sepsis include fever, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, fast heart rate, and mental confusion. Many children who have contracted the flu have become septic, causing death. If you believe you have become septic, it is important to immediately seek a medical professional.

The flu can be intimidating, but preventive actions will decrease the chance of you contracting the flu. Wash your hands, keep distance from people who are sick, and get your flu shot.

Information is derived from the Washington Post, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the New York Times.

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‘Tis the Season of Influenza: Flu outbreak causes concern to population