Welcome To The Flu – Again!

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By John Gobbels, Medjet VP/COO

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) FluView report for the week ending February 11, 2017, flu activity continues to increase and is widespread in most of the United States. The proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like illness has been at or above the national baseline for nine consecutive weeks so far this season. Influenza A (H3) viruses continue to predominate and based on early estimates, flu vaccines this season have reduced a vaccinated person’s risk of getting sick and having to go to the doctor because of flu by about half (48%).

So what can we do this season?

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone six months of age and older and anyone who has not gotten vaccinated yet this season should get vaccinated now. The use of injectable influenza vaccines including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines should be used during the 2016-2017 season. The nasal spray flu vaccine (live attenuated influenza vaccine or LAIV) should not be used during the 2016-2017 season says the CDC.

Obviously trying to avoid contact with sick travelers is easier said than done, but try to limit contact. Wash your hands often with soap and water and if that is not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer. Being proactive and disinfecting surfaces that might be contaminated like airline seat back tables and arm rests can help stop the spread. Research also has shown that we touch our face between 2,000 and 3,000 times each day, so try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as germs spread this way!

What if we get the Flu?

If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and are prescription medicines that are not available over-the-counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications for people with high-risk factors. Treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

Some studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Always follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug and remember that you can be infected with Flu without a fever.

The CDC also recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to seek medical attention. Also remember that this guideline assumes your fever is gone and you are not using fever reducing medications.

Enjoy your travels, but don’t forget that taking small steps in prevention can pay off big this Flu Season!

For more information go to www.cdc.gov.