If you’re planning on going to the mall or a department store to do some shopping, you may pick up more than you bargained for. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Georgia is currently experiencing a widespread flu outbreak.
The organization states most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Some, such as young children and people with weakened immune systems, might have the ability to infect others for an even longer time.
Affecting the nose, throat, and lungs, Influenza (flu) spreads mainly by droplets through coughing, sneezing, or talking. However, there are some simple steps to help prevent contracting the virus, such as frequently washing your hands with warm, soapy water. While the CDC recommends healthy individuals ages two and up be vaccinated for the flu each year, getting the vaccine is no guarantee that you will not get the flu as the virus can mutate into other strains of the virus not included in the vaccine. As with all vaccines and medications, do your research and evaluate your personal risk factors before taking them.
To learn if you or others in your home are acceptable candidates for the vaccine, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/index.htm.
For adults, emergency warning signs of flu sickness include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Most people who have flu do not need medical care or antiviral drugs and can simply stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone and avoid contact with others. While recovery time is generally less than two weeks, if you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, you are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization.
If you’re caring for someone sick at home with the flu, the CDC suggests making a separate sick room, if possible, to help prevent other family members from contracting the flu. The person with the flu should have his or her own bathroom, toiletries, and dining utensils.
For more information on prevention, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/