(WXYZ) - Winter is only a few weeks old, but this year’s flu season has come on earlier and stronger than any in years. Influenza is now reported to be widespread 49 states, and it has officially reached epidemic levels across the country. This year’s dominant strain — called H3N2 — has proven resistant to about 70 percent of the flu shots people are getting to try to stop it. So it’s particularly important to be on guard against this powerful virus.
The oldest and youngest in our society are being hit hardest by the flu. This year’s shot takes about two weeks to become effective, so if you haven’t gotten one yet don’t wait any longer. People over 65 and children under a year old need to be particularly careful. One of the most incredible statistics I’ve seen is that a quarter of all respiratory specimens tested in clinical labs last week were positive for flu. It’s everywhere.
It’s unclear if drastic changes in temperature play a role in making the flu stronger. One thing we do know for sure is that the virus does well in cold weather when the air tends to be drier. Regardless of what’s causing it to be so strong this year, there are a few things that everyone should be aware of. Here are my prescriptions.
-Get the flu vaccine. Even though it’s not 100% effective, it’s still your best bet to beat the flu before it takes you down.
-Take preventative actions to protect yourself and others. Cough and sneeze into your arm, wash your hands often, and stay home from school or work if you’re sick.
-Take antiviral drugs if they're prescribed to you.
-The FDA warns not to give anti-cough medications containing codeine to children or adolescents.
The Center for Disease Control wants to remind people of the difference between antibiotics and antiviral drugs. Some people take antibiotics in an attempt to fight the flu, and that’s not what you want to do. Antibiotics are prescribed to fight against bacterial infections. Antiviral drugs are for viruses, like the flu. So make sure if you’re taking the correct medication to fight your symptoms.
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