February 2013 Flu is not a Cold or a Stomach Bug
A mild case of the flu can sometimes look like a common cold. But flu can be much more serious. In addition to fever, cough, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose, flu can cause headache, muscle ache, and fatigue. And even though flu is not a stomach bug, children also can have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Although most flu illnesses in children do not lead to complications, some can lead to ear infections, pneumonia and in rare cases, even death. The best way to prevent influenza is by getting a flu vaccine. Every year in the USA, even healthy children are hospitalized or die from flue complications. Estimated 20,000 children 5 years old and younger are hospitalized from flu-related cases every year.
People who have flu usually have a runny nose, and they cough and sneeze, which makes droplets with viruses in them. Others can get the flu by breathing these droplets in their noses or mouths or touching surfaces contaminated with flu virus and then touching their noses or mouths.
Flu season most often peaks in March, in RI, but viruses can continue to spread and cause illnesses through month of May. There are many different flu viruses and they change constantly. For each season, a new flu vaccine is produced that is designed to protect against the three main flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness during the upcoming season- the decision about which viruses to include is based on the best information available and the opinion on experts. The vaccine can protect against illness form the viruses in the vaccine, or it can make illness milder if people are exposed to a different but related flu virus.
Best preventive tips if you choose not to be vaccinated: wash your hands often with soap and water, cover your cough/sneeze with your elbow, and if you have flu like symptoms please stay home until you are fever free for full 24 hours without aid of medications.
February is American Heart Month. Influenza vaccine is safe and particularly important for people with heart disease.
Have a wonderful vacation!