First, what are you seeing in terms of number of cases and severity of the flu? In the early season of flu we in our clinics in Antioch we were not seeing any positive flu but as time moved into late January and now February we are seeing 2-3 positive cases per day but the majority of patients are coming in for flu like symptoms testing negative but have upper respiratory infections, sore throat, cough etc.
What can you tell us about this particular strain of flu? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the influenza A (H3N2) is the predominating strand this season.
We are hearing from people (myself included), who received a flu shot, but still got the flu. What’s up with that? The CDC formulates a flu vaccination each year specific to the strand of flu they predict will be most prominent in the United States each season. There are always other strands of flu that can be spread as people travel around and outside the country. If you received a flu vaccination for a particular strand of flu but become exposed to a different strand of flu not covered in the vaccination or one that your body has not yet been exposed to then you will still get ill with the flu even though you received a vaccination.
We know washing hands is important, but are there extra steps we can take during periods where the flu (and strep) are both pretty common at the moment? Other than handwashing, avoiding unnecessary trips within the community where there are groups of people that may be infected with the virus such as School, malls, shopping. Also wiping down surfaces at home and work with Clorox or Antiseptic wipes along with covering the mouth when coughing
What are the key indications/symptoms of flu and at what point should a person see their physician? Body aches, chills, stomach discomfort, sore throat, headache, and fever are common. In many cases staying well hydrated taking medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen and rest will help ease the symptoms until the virus passes in approx. 3-5 days. It is recommended that treatment be started as soon as possible (within 48 hours) of symptoms starting. People at greatest risk are pregnant women, adults over age 65 and children less than 2 years of age.
How long is a person contagious? How long should they stay out of work, home from school, etc.? Typically a person will need to take antiviral medications for 5 days they are permitted to return to work in 3-5 days as long as symptoms of fever has resolved and proper precautions have been explained and understood to prevent exposure of others.
Can the flu truly be treated – and perhaps shortened, but do you just have to suffer through it? If treatment is started early (within 48 hours) symptoms of the flu are shortened; therefore, can be managed more effectively.
Anything else we should know? Every year the flu vaccination is available to nearly all people living in the United States. It is highly recommended that every person that meets the criteria to receive vaccination get vaccinated as soon as the annual flu vaccination is available.