Flu Virus Takes America by Storm

It’s flu season, and it’s packing a nasty punch across the U.S. In 49 out of 50 states, the influenza virus has become widespread. For those wondering, Hawaii is the lucky one.

In addition to it being widespread, it’s proving to deadlier than last year’s strain. So far, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has reported 20 infant deaths related to this years strain. This time last year, only three infants were taken from the flu.

The strain to blame this season is H3N2, a sub strain from influenza A, which can be hosted by birds and swine, as well as humans. It’s the strains that take form from this particular strain that account for more hospitalizations and higher death tolls.

From 2003 to 2013, the three flu seasons that were dominated by H3N2 strains of the flu had the highest mortality rates, according to verywell.com. The CDC reported that the 2013 strain had a high of 56,000 American deaths in connection to the flu.

A typical flu season starts in December and ends in February, but some strains have been known to survive into the early weeks of May. If infected, the symptoms tend to last four to five days, but can persist up to seven days.

The best way to prevent catching the flu is by getting a shot. One flu vaccine provides protection all season long, and can prevent illness or reduce the severity of flu symptoms.

“There are at least three good reasons for everyone six months and older to get an annual flu shot,” said Health Commissioner Sherlita Amler, MD. “First, as flu strains change each year, the vaccine is adapted to take them on. Second, people of every age, including those who are healthy, can become quite ill with the flu. And third, healthier people who get a flu shot each year help protect infants too young to receive the vaccine, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions, for whom the flu can be very serious.”

Flu symptoms include fevers, headaches, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Similar to the common cold, but while the cold severity builds up over time, the flu hits its victims with full force once it’s in the host and disrupts means of productivity.

If one finds that they do get a respiratory infection, to prevent it spreading the infected individual should cough or sneeze into their elbow, wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water. If possible, they should also stay home until 24 hours after the fever subsides and clean surfaces that are touched frequently, such as door knobs or water faucets.

It’s also very important to get plenty of rest, eat healthy food, and hydrate with water as much as possible.

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