Alert: U.S. Flu Epidemic Widespread in 43 States

From Aprilaire, the experts in indoor air quality: The U.S. is experiencing a flu epidemic and the most common circulating strain has a history of severe illness and increased mortality.  CDC has announced a flu epidemic is underway this season and a particularly harsh strain of Influenza A is to blame. Flu activity is elevated around the country and has resulted in fifteen child deaths so far this season. An important aspect of staying ahead of this year’s flu epidemic and keeping families safe is recognizing the signs of influenza early.

A fever is one sign that a child could be sick with the flu – which can lead to severe complications.

How Flu Symptoms Lead to Severe Complications

According to Web MD, both colds and influenza have similar symptoms, but there are important differences. One of the most significant things to note about influenza is that it can make people much sicker than other common seasonal illness. People generally feel much more worn down and experience body aches.

The riskiest complication is pneumonia, which may become fatal in some children, the sick or elderly. The CDC said the most common virus circulating is H3N2. In past seasons, a flu epidemic caused by this strain has been associated with more severe illness and higher mortality

Another sign a case of the sniffles could be related to the current flu epidemic is body temperature. A high, long-lasting fever is one of the most common symptoms. While a cold may present with a fever, it’s usually mild and lasts less than two days.

5 Ways to Prepare for a Flu Epidemic

The expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” should be taken to heart this winter. Time is the only cure for colds and flu after infected so the best way to stop painful symptoms is to avoid getting sick.

  1. 1.     Get a vaccination: Because so many viruses cause the common cold, no vaccination exists. However, an annual vaccine has been around for decades and is recommended by the CDC, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. The CDC has stated the circulating strain of H3N2 has “drifted” from the one covered by the vaccine, however, it still provides some immunity and can reduce the severity of complications caused by the flu epidemic.
  2. 2.     Practice good hygiene: Most viruses enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, often after a person has touched those areas with his or her hands. Proper and frequent hand washing can help reduce the transmission of germs.
  3. 3.     Install an air purifier: Filter technology has come a long way in recent years and some whole-home air purifiers can remove nearly 80 percent of viruses and other ultra-fine particles.
  4. 4.     Maintain proper humidity: Humidity control in the winter is essential to reducing disease transmission. Rhinoviruses and influenza prefer dry air environments where they remain airborne longer; increasing the chance family members will become ill. A humidifier is the most effective way to control indoor relative humidity during cold weather.
  5. 5.     Visit your doctor: While there is no “cure” for H3N2, there are some drugs that can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. These products are only available by prescription, so sick individuals must see a doctor to get them.  

People can protect others from getting sick and limit the flu epidemic by staying home from work and keeping kids out of school until they are less contagious. Infected individuals are most contagious during the first two to four days of a cold and up to a week after. If staying home is not an option, those who are contagions should be sure to wash their hands and cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing. 

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