One of the worst influenza outbreaks in the past years is raging across the nation, with sometimes deadly results.
In Oregon, the flu has killed at least three children this season. Just this week, 37-year-old Stephanie Shradar and her unborn child were killed in a strain of the virus called influenza A. It left Stephanie's husband, Lee Shradar, a widower and their two daughters, ages 5 and 7, motherless.
Influenza A can be dangerous, but it's not a automatic killer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are a few things you should know about the virus.
Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses.
According to the CDC, symptoms generally include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.
But the flu is not like the typical cold – it can and does kill. Complications include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections or worsening of other pre-existing medical conditions.
Influenza is contagious and anyone can get it, although children, the elderly and people with certain medical conditions are at greater risk. The "flu season" is generally October through May.
Most scientists believe that the flu spreads when the bits of the virus travel through the air as people with it cough, sneeze or talk.
Influenza is treatable, and it is important to quickly contact a health care professional if symptoms emerge.
] Antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu. If your doctor prescribes them, take them.
If you get sick, the CDC recommends you stay at home for at least 24 hours and keep contact with other people to a minimum to reduce the likelihood you will infect others.
Most people Do not need to visit the emergency department when they get the flu. But the CDC recommends that people seek emergency health care if they have trouble breathing, bluish lips or skin, persistent chest pain or muscle pain, dehydration and high fever, among other emergency conditions.
The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine every year to help prevent the spread of influenza.
The CDC also recommends employing general sanitation techniques, such as staying away from sick people, covering the killing and sneezes and regular handwashing.
Getting A flu vaccine is easy.
You can use the CDC's online flu shot finder and locate providers by your zip code. Vaccines are also typically available at your local pharmacy.
– Gordon R. Friedman