It’s likely that, by this point, everyone within shouting distance of this editorial has either had the flu or knows someone who has.
Experts say the strain going around this year may be more severe and even more contagious than usual. It’s a strain – A H3N2 – that was responsible for the most recent similarly severe flu season, in 2014-15.
Dr. Bo Sherwood told The Chronicle’s Tom Corwin that both outpatient visits and hospital admissions have spiked this year. And even though the season may have peaked, it will continue for another couple months.
One report last week indicated both University Hospital and Augusta University Medical Center emergency rooms reached capacity – and that University had been diverting ambulances from the ER unless the patient had requested University or the case was dire.
“This year’s flu season is already the most widespread on record since health officials began keeping track 13 years ago, and has already caused the deaths of more children than what normally would be expected at this time of the year,” reported The Washington Post.
Flu shots, even if they’re not 100 percent preventative, can lessen symptoms – and can still be taken.
Flu symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:
runny or stuffy nose
The CDC advises those with the flu to stay away from “work, school, travel, shopping, social events and public gatherings.” How long? That’s a personal and business decision. But we hope businesses offer employees paid time off when possible, in order to reduce the length and severity of this epidemic.
Ironically, experts suggest practices for those who have the flu that are similar to those who just want to avoid getting it: Wash your hands frequently; sneeze into tissue or your elbow rather than your hands; and consider wearing a facemask to avoid spreading it when you have to seek medical care.
We’ve got to nurse each other through this.