- By Deb Balzer
Have the Flu? Stay Home!
It's official. The flu season is here. Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist Dr. Pritish Tosh says it’s not too late for people who have not been vaccinated to get the influenza vaccine. "Although influenza right now is on the increase nationally, there certainly will be several more weeks of influenza activity likely within people’s location but also across the U.S. If you haven't gotten the vaccine, now would be a great time to do so, otherwise it may be too late."
This predominant virus in the 2016 seasonal epidemic is the influenza A (H1N1) virus that is similar to the virus in the 2009 pandemic. "This year, the estimated vaccine efficacy is about 60 percent. If someone were to have gotten the vaccine, they’re is a 60 percent reduction in the likelihood that they would get influenza infection," says Dr. Tosh.
Influenza is a respiratory infection. Common symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, fever, muscle aches and sore throat. Dr. Tosh says, "Usually, it will feel like a cold but a whole lot worse. Most people who are healthy and develop normal influenza that is not severe, may feel awful, but they will get better by just making sure they get plenty of rest and plenty of fluids."
He adds, "Most healthy people who get influenza often don’t need to see a health care provider, although there are antivirals that are available. Due to the concern of development of antiviral resistance, we save those antivirals for people who are at higher risk of complication." According to Dr. Tosh, those of a higher risk of developing complications if they were to get influenza, including death, include people who are not as healthy, have underlying medical comorbidities, or older age or younger age and are at higher risk
"The important things for people to know is that if they have influenza-like illness and they are otherwise healthy, they usually don’t need to see their doctor, they can stay at home, meaning don’t go to work, don’t go to school, get plenty of rest, don’t try to do work from home and get plenty of fluids. This is really the hallmark of how you take care of yourself during influenza season."