How to stay healthy with the flu going around

7:34 PM, Jan 9, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Early and intense -- this year's flu is moving fast.

"I think on Wednesday, I saw more patients with the flu than I did all of last year," said Pediatrician Dr. Shelly Senders, of Senders Pediatrics.

Dr. Senders says it's children and those who care for them that worry him most.

"There have already been 20 deaths in pediatric cases around the country and that's a shame," he said. "The flu is the most common vaccine preventable cause of death in this country. You can't say it any more bluntly than that."

Elisha, 6, and his parents have gotten the vaccine, and his grandparents, Katherine and Robert Evans, are watching for signs.

"We're keeping sanitizer available, whenever we do go in and out, and making sure that we're eating correctly and taking in a lot of fluids," said Katherine.

"We're more aware of the flu and the symptoms. So we're basically on the lookout," said Robert.

"We have seen a soaring of the cases of individuals coming in with influenza particularly since Thanksgiving break," said Dr. Jonathan Leizman, the director of regional urgent and express care clinics for the Cleveland Clinic.

"It peaked almost at a perfect storm time," said Leizman. CDC's FluView has watched holiday travelers spread the germs nationwide.

"As we move beyond break and back to school we're seeing people who may have been able to stay away from the illness now going back to situations where they are with their classmates or coworkers and again they are being exposed to the flu," he said.

And it's far from over.

"It generally lasts about 12 to 16 weeks so we're talking about really the months of January, February and March that we have to be concerned about," said Senders.

So what do you need to know to avoid the bug, or at least spreading it?

Flu 101: Resource Guide

1. Wash your hands, cover your mouth and use alcohol-based cleaners and sanitizers.

2. It's not too late to get a flu shot. Sooner is better than later, but you can get one through April. It takes about two weeks to a month for your body to build antibodies.

3. The flu vaccine is effective, but not perfect. If you do get a strain not covered by the vaccine, you're likely to experience milder symptoms, and a shorter duration.

4. Everyone should get the flu vaccine, but especially those who are young, elderly or immune compromised. People in these high-risk groups should also seek a doctor's help for antivirals if they get sick.

5. If you get sick, stay home while symptoms persist. That means at least 48 hours after fever breaks and longer if you have extreme congestion.


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