The recent number of influenza related deaths this flu season continues to climb. There have been 20 deaths from the flu reported since October in Louisiana, and 22 deaths in Arkansas since September.
Flu season starts in the fall and generally peaks in the months of January and February. Most physicians believe that the flu is spread when a person with the virus coughs or sneezes, and the germs spread to the mouth or nose of another person. It flu can also spread by touching a surface with the flu virus on it, then touching the mouth, eyes, or nose.
Many cases of the flu are seen in children who are not vaccinated and the elderly. Even though these age groups tend to be the most vulnerable, anyone who has a particularly weak immune system or has been in contact with others who have the flu is at risk.
A registered nurse told The Gramblinite that the flu can be very serious.
“Anytime you get a virus it can attack you. A few years ago the flu attacked people’s hearts,” Kim Stampley says, a registered nurse at Oak Grove Memorial Hospital. Stampley added that a person with a weak immune system can develop strep-pneumonia from the flu.
A GSU student tells The Gramblinite about his recent experience with the flu.
“I’ve had the flu for the past two weeks. When I tried to go to class, I felt more like I was distracting everybody. I was always coughing and felt like I might throw up at anytime,” says Jordan Cameron, Senior Visual Communications major from Dallas, TX. Cameron also added that this was his first time catching the flu and has never had a vaccine.
Doctors strongly advise getting the flu vaccine to decrease the chances of getting the virus and if it is contracted, making the virus weaker. Flu shots are given at any local clinic, pharmacy, or doctor, and can be free with medical insurance.
“A lot of people who don’t get the vaccine think they’ll get the flu if they do,” says Stampley, “I think a lot of adults have that perception. The flu shots that were given in the past were a live virus; the flu shots we get today are more of a dead virus.”
Some early flu symptoms include fever, aches, chills, or extreme tiredness. The most popular medication for treating virus is Tamiflu. An antiviral, Tamiflu attacks the flu virus at its source before it gets the chance to spread throughout the body. However, Tamiflu must be taken within two days of noticing symptoms or it is usually too late to stop the virus.
There are many basic things that can be done in order to prevent getting the flu. “Good hand washing is really the key thing.” Sandy Waters says, a registered nurse at Oak Grove Memorial Hospital. Other good ways to ensure a person’s health include: taking vitamins, covering your mouth or nose with a tissue after sneezing and coughing, and avoiding close contact with those who are contagious.