Thursday, January 16, 2014

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Flu?

What is the Flu?

Although there are many different types of flu, there are three that are most common to date and each is caused or derived from different factors.

Seasonal flu usually begins in the fall and peaks during the January/February months. 5-20% of people living in the U.S. are affected and catch this type of flu.

H1N1, nicknamed “Swine Flu” because of its mimicked symptoms of H3N2 or H3N2v which is a type of flu that is only found in pigs. H1N1 cannot be caught through eating pig based foods. This virus first emerged in 2009 and has been increasingly spread throughout the nation.

H5N1, also known as the “Bird Flu”, has not been an active virus in the U.S. and is only found in China. People infected with H5N1 contracted the virus from eating dead infected poultry or came in close contact with infected poultry.

Everyone’s Afraid of the Big Bad Flu

It is hard to go throughout the day without hearing something about the flu in the local DFW region. The most current reports show that the death toll continues to rise as more and more individuals are infected. With Dallas County at 26, Tarrant Count at 5, Collin County at 1, and Denton County at 3, the death toll due to the flu this year is most definitely something to be afraid of. The most popular flu strain this season is H1N1 which has more of an impact with women who are pregnant and young children. The Denton and Dallas Counties Health Departments are anticipating the flu activity in the region to remain high in the coming weeks. Both facilities are urging residents to get vaccinated immediately.

How to Prevent the Flu

Knowing the steps to prevent the spread of flu can help the overall health of the community.  Adaption of these preventative measures is key to lower the transmission of the flu. Remember to wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, avoid contact with those infected, get plenty of sleep, exercise, drink plenty of fluids, manage your stress, and eat a healthy diet. Those who are most at risk of contracting the flu are children and infants, senior citizens, people with disabilities, people with preexisting health conditions, travelers, and people living abroad. If you are taking care of someone who is infected, there are preventative medications available with a prescription from your health provider to lower your risk of also becoming infected.

The most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. This vaccination provides protection against both the seasonal strain and the H1N1 flu.  It is important to plan ahead and get vaccinated early in the season since the vaccination takes two weeks to become effective, but it is never too late to receive a vaccination.


The flu comes with a variety of symptoms which can include some or all of the following: a fever of 100 or higher, chills, body aches and/or headaches, fatigue, cough, sore throat, vomiting, nausea, and/or diarrhea (most common in children). Both the flu and the common cold have similar symptoms so it is important to get tested by a medical professional to conclude whether it is the flu or not. It is also important to note when to seek emergency medical attention if breathing becomes difficult, there is a blue/purple discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure occurs in the abdomen, sudden dizziness or confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, seizures, and flu-like symptoms that improve and then return.


The flu can be treated with or without medications. Since antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections, they are not effective against viral infections like the flu. Medications help to relieve the symptoms associated with the flu, but do not make the infected individual any less contagious. The four known types of medications are Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), Generic (amantadine), and Flumadine (rimantadine).

The easiest way to avoid the flu is to get vaccinated. Although once infected, medication is not completely necessary. To treat the flu without the use of medications simply make sure to get plenty of rest, drink clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated, use a cool wash cloth to reduce local aches and pains, place a humidifier in your resting area to make breathing easier, gargle with salt water to ease sore throats, and cover up with a warm blanket.

Where Can I Get Vaccinated?

There are many different places that you can get the flu vaccination at. Vaccinations are always available through your health provider and at some pharmacies. In the local community, there are a few locations that are currently giving flu vaccinations for free.

535 S. Loop 288, Suite 1003
(940) 349-2900

190 N. Valley Pkwy., Suite 203
(972) 434-4700

 Texas Woman's University also has vaccinations available 8am-3:30pm at Student Health Services for students currently enrolled at a $20 cost ($25 for Faculty/Staff). There are many more locations where flu vaccinations are available, information on these sites can be found below.

                                      Want more information? Check out these helpful sites!

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Denton County Health Department (DCHD)

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Woman's University Student Health Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Other Blogs that you migh like.
Breast Cancer Awareness

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Denton County Health Department (DCHD)

Denton County Health Department Free Flu Shots

Kansas Department of Health and Environment (Image 1 Source)

San Mateo County Health System (Image 3 Source)

Space Coast Daily (Image 4 Source)

Technorati (Image 5 Source)

Texas Department of State Health Services

Texas Woman's University Student Health Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Flu )

U.S. Virologic Serveillance (Image 2  Source)

WFAA-TV Channel 8

No comments: