The flu also called influenza is a contagious respiratory
illness caused by flu viruses. The illness can be mild or severe and in rare
cases it can lead to death.
"The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu
vaccination each year", the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states
on its website.
How many people are affected by flu?
Each year in the US, 5 to 20% of the population gets the
flu. The illness sends more than 200,000 to hospitals and the CDC says that flu
kills 36,000 people.
But critics dispute
the claim saying that the majority of deaths are caused by pneumonia and only a
small percentage by flu because symptoms for both are similar.
Who are most vulnerable for flu?
As always, people with weak immune system are at higher
Older people, young children and
people with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease,
cancer are at greater risk of complications.
Many drugs and treatments can reduce the body's immune responses and
raise the risk of infections including influenza.
What are the symptoms of flu?
According to the CDC, symptoms of flu include high fever,
headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose,
muscle aches, and stomach problems like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The
stomach problems can occur in children more often than in adults.
What types of complications can flu cause?
Flu is often a mild infection and would not pose too much
of a risk.
But in those with weak immune
system, complications can occur including bacterial pneumonia, ear infections,
sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions like
diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure according to the CDC.
How do flu viruses spread from person to person?
Flu viruses spread mainly through coughing or sneezing of
people with flu.
Flu can be fairly
contagious particularly among people with poor immunity. Most people may spread
viruses to others before they become sick.
How can I prevent flu?
The CDC says the only preventative measure is
But studies have shown that
many alternative remedies may be more effective than vaccine.
Alternative preventatives include high doses
of vitamin C and vitamin D.
more likely to get flu in the winter because their vitamin D level is lower
during the winter. Vitamin D is known to maintain powerful immune response and
defend the body from attacks from flu viruses and others.
How effective is the flu vaccine?
The content in flu vaccines varies from one year to another
because each year the strain of the virus that causes the flu epidemic may unlikely
be the same.
Vaccine makers, based on
the government's recommendations, construct their vaccines based on their
prediction about what strain may emerge to be the trigger of the next flu
For the 2008-2009 season, the vaccines contain
A/Brisbane/59/2007(H1N1)-like virus, A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus, and
B/Florida/4/2006-like virus, according to the CDC.
What is the CDC's vaccine recommendation?
The CDC says cited in verbatim:
In general, anyone who wants to reduce their chances of
getting the flu can get vaccinated. However, certain people should get
vaccinated each year either because they are at high risk of having serious
flu-related complications or because they live with or care for high risk
persons. During flu seasons when vaccine supplies are limited or delayed, the Advisory
Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes recommendations regarding
priority groups for vaccination.
People who should get vaccinated each year are:
1. Children aged
6 months up to their 19th birthday
3. People 50 years
of age and older
4. People of any
age with certain chronic medical conditions
5. People who
live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
6. People who
live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
Health care workers
Household contacts of persons at high risk
for complications from the flu
Household contacts and out of home
caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young
to be vaccinated)
Who should not get flu shots?
Again, the CDC says:
Some people should not be vaccinated without first
consulting a physician. They include:
* People who
have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
* People who
have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
* People who
developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza
* Children less
than 6 months of age (influenza vaccine is not approved for use in this age
* People who
have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated
until their symptoms lessen.
Okay, Google is helping the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
monitor the annual flu epidemic with an unconventional tool, a tool
that is based on search keywords. Studies showed that prediction of flu
outbreaks by the Google Flu Trends, can not only quick, but also
reliable. Research demonstrated the Google prediction matched the
official surveillance data. The difference is that Google provides real
time reporting while the reports the CDC receive from surveillance
centers have a lag period of two weeks. Google provides the service
for free and the data are being reported to the CDC real time. The CDC
can notify health professionals quickly when a notice is necessary.
For us, we are more concerned about the flu prevention. We know there
is no cure for the viral infection. But we also know something that we
can do to prevent the illness affects millions of people each year.
Below we provide a set of common questions and answers on flu and
prevention for those who might want to learn more about this illness.
Disclaimer: What's published on this website should be considered opinions of respective writers only and foodconsumer.org which has no political agenda nor commercial ambition may or may not endorse any opinion of any writer. No accuracy is guaranteed although writers are doing their best to provide accurate information only.
The information on this website should not be construed as medical advice and should not be used to replace professional services provided by qualified or licensed health care workers. The site serves only as a platform for writers and readers to share knowledge, experience, and information from the scientific community, organizations, government agencies and individuals.
Foodconsumer.org encourages readers who have had medical conditions to consult with licensed health care providers - conventional and or alternative medical practitioners.