Lately, every other person I’ve spoken to is sick with either a cough, cold or stuffy nose. How can it be that after such a beautiful summer, so many are infected with nasty viruses and contagious germs?
Is this an indication of our flu season to come?
Back in April, I wrote a blog post that gave helpful tips on preventing the flu and seasonal viruses. I want to bring your attention back to that advice. Recently, we’ve seen news reports about extremely contagious illnesses: a confirmed case of H1N1 (swine flu) in southwestern Ontario; above normal occurrences of West Nile virus; the highest incidences of whooping cough in the U.S. in 50 years; and increased reports of strep throat. Now flu experts are predicting an intense flu season.
As the traditional flu season begins, we’ll see a rise in viral and contagious illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some sound advice. Since the flu season and its severity are difficult to predict, you may want to arm yourself with a flu shot. Flu experts are predicting a rash of new influenza viruses this year.
The experts face challenges each year trying to prevent and control the flu virus outbreak. They monitor trends, common strains, new strains and mutated ones in order to develop the most effective vaccine for the season. After determining how much vaccine to manufacture and when to begin administrating it, the expert’s goal is a successfully controlled flu season.
We also play an important role.
The onslaught of viral infections is largely due to the change in weather: Cooler temperatures and sporadic rain creates the perfect breeding ground. Many infections are quite common from late fall to early spring as the school year begins and people spend more time indoors and in enclosed spaces.
Infectious illnesses are always present in our environment, but it’s the ones like influenza that can spread from one person to another before you know you’re sick. You need to build your defence mechanism and stop the spread.
Many people die from the flu and infectious illnesses each year. Older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart disease are more at risk.
So if you’re feeling under the weather, you’re not alone. Despite the fact that many are infected and spreading unwanted germs, not so many are taking prevention seriously. Getting a yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting yourself and your loved ones from catching and spreading the flu. The experts recommend that, with few exceptions, everyone over age six months should get a flu vaccine.
In light of this year’s forecast, we should be getting our vaccination as soon as it becomes available in our community. I’ve been watching notifications for the Greater Toronto Area and it looks like flu shot clinics will begin mid-October. For more information about flu clinics in your area check your local newspaper, public health unit, or community health centre.
Stop procrastinating. If you’re not a seasonal recipient of the flu shot, you should be. Receiving the vaccine annually builds your body’s immunity to influenza viruses, reduces your chances of catching the flu, decreases the length of time you’re ill, and for the most part lessens its spread. The experts study the viruses and their constantly changing patterns. It’s not unusual for new flu viruses to appear each year along with the regular suspects. Vaccination is your best line of defence.
We need to be proactive. Talk to your family doctor or community health nurse. Get in line and get the shot!