What You Need to Know About Flu Season
The CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States since 2010. In addition, the flu has resulted in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations each year. While seasonal influenza (flu) viruses can affect people year round, the flu is most common during the fall and winter seasons. The peak of flu season in the United States runs from November to March. In the past 34 years, flu activity peaked in February, but activity can last as late as May. Keep reading to learn more about the flu, how it is spread and what you can do to combat this virus and keep it from spreading.
What is the Flu?
Influenza, or “the flu” is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Symptoms can range from mild to severe. The virus infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. People who have the flu often experience a fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and/or even vomiting and diarrhea. In more severe cases, complications of the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. Anyone can get the flu, even healthy people, and serious problems can occur at any age. However, some people are at high risk of developing serious issues if they become sick with the flu. This includes people age 65 and older, as well as anyone with certain chronic medical conditions, women who are pregnant and young children.
How the Flu Spreads
Most experts believe that the flu viruses is spread mainly by tiny droplets containing the virus, made when someone with the flu coughs, sneezes or even just talks. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. Another way the flu could be spread is by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose or eyes. Most people who are exposed to the flu virus will develop symptoms in about 1-4 days. People with the flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins. However, some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others 1 day before and up to 5 to 7 days after symptoms are present. Those with weakened immune systems, such as young children and the elderly, may be able to infect others for an even longer period of time.
Preventing the Flu
According to the CDC, the first and most important step in preventing the flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. Other steps for preventing the flu include staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and frequent handwashing. These preventative actions can all help slow the spread of the germs that cause respiratory illnesses such as the flu.
Each year, the flu places a large burden on the health and well-being of children and their families. This year, we’re experiencing a nasty flu season across the entire continental United States. Experts believe that the season peaked a few weeks ago, with a record number of flu cases for this time of year. Unfortunately, the CDC estimates an additional 11-13 weeks of flu circulation across the country.
For children, the flu is more dangerous than the common cold. As parents, it’s important that you keep your child home from daycare, preschool, etc. if they are sick. As childcare providers and early childhood educators, it’s important that you teach young children about the importance of washing their hands, as well as covering their coughs and sneezes. All Portable Sinks is here to help you combat the spread of germs in your classrooms, daycares and Head Start program centers. We also have adult sinks for combating the flu in the workplace. Learn more about our wide variety of portable sinks by visiting our website today. We make it easy to get both hot and cold running water in areas that don’t have access to traditional plumbing, making it even easier to keep illness causing germs at bay!
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- Erin Burdette