Influenza (commonly called the “flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Every year in the United States, on average 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu. Thousands of people are hospitalized and die from seasonal flu complications each year.
This flu season could be worse. There is a new and very different flu virus spreading worldwide among people called novel or new H1N1 flu. This virus may cause more illness or more severe illness than usual.
There are steps the CDC recommends to take to prevent getting the flu:
- The CDC recommends getting a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza.
- Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk of serious flu complications, including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
- A new vaccine against novel H1N1 is being produced and will be available in the coming months as an option for prevention of novel H1N1 infection.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Those with flu-like illness should stay away from classes and limit interactions with other people (called “self-isolation”), except to seek medical care, for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever, or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
- People at high risk for flu complications including young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older who become ill with flu-like illness should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible.
Please enroll in the STC Emergency Notification System at http://alert.southtexascollege.edu/ so you can receive emergency messages and updates regarding H1N1 or other campus emergencies.
This article provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. To find out if this article applies to you and to get more information on this subject, talk to your family doctor.