While flus are normally not very fun to experience, they’re not often life-threatening. You just have to take a few days off, rest, get plenty of fluids, and sleep.
This time, though, there’s far more risk associated with catching the flu bug.
Since the start of the year, the 2018 flu has been bad enough to rival the horrors of the flu season from 2014 to 2015. That season claimed 56,000 lives, led to 710,000 hospitalizations, and affected 34 million people across the United States, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Not only that, but 2018’s flu is on par with the swine flu back in 2009. Federal health officials and other experts say the 2018 flu season is nowhere near being done yet.
Why Is the Flu Season So Bad?
So what is it that’s making 2018 one of the most noteworthy flu seasons on record? The flu strain itself is partly to blame. Called H3N2, it leads to both influenza A and B viruses, which can be fatal. The average person also has a weakened immunity to the strain compared to others.
Another reason is fewer people are getting flu shots. Whether they just forgot, don’t have the time, or question the effectiveness of these shots, public health officials who spoke to The New York Times cite this as one reason the flu has affected so many people.
Children are also passing the flu virus around when in school. Not only are their classmates at risk, but so are all teachers and school staff as well as each child’s family members.
How You Can Stay Safe and Healthy
While children and the elderly are of course at the biggest risk of getting the flu, people of various ages have died from the H3N2 strain. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize your health as well as the health of your loved ones. Here are some ways you can do so:
- If you haven’t already, be sure to go to a local clinic for a flu vaccine.
- Wash your hands as often as you can, and always with warm water and soap. Antibacterial hand sanitizer is not as effective as soap and water.
- Limit how much you go out and where you go out in the winter months.
- Wipe down backpacks, books, toys, and other items that were outside or at school to avoid spreading germs.
- Do not touch your face unless your hands are clean.
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