Flu Facts

It’s cold and flu season again and recent news reports indicate that this year’s flu strain hit faster and is causing more severe symptoms than in past years.  Fortunately, the influenza virus is fairly easy to avoid if you take the correct steps to protect yourself.  There are plenty of places to turn for information about the flu, so here’s what you need to know about the flu and how to stay informed during flu season:

Mercer County Division of Public Health has put together a flu guidebook aimed at families, but the information pertains to anyone.  The guidebook can be printed for easy reference when away from your computer and covers the basics from prevention to treatment, including a list of useful links.

The old adage that prevention is the best medicine is very true when it comes to the flu, since it is caused by a virus and is not treatable with antibiotics.  Caught earlier enough, you may be able to take antiviral drugs to cut back on symptoms, but the key to staying healthy is still prevention.  The best ways to avoid the flu are to get a vaccine, wash your hands frequently and use common sense to avoid picking up germs from someone else, such as not sharing food or drinks and avoid close contact with someone who is already sick.  WebMD has an excellent article detailing Flu Prevention Strategies in their Cold, Flu and Cough Health Center.

Since it is never too late to get a vaccine, try the Flu Vaccine Finder below.  The Flu Vaccine Finder is also featured on the government’s Flu website, which is a great place to turn for all the information you need about the flu, including risk factors and symptoms.  Pay particular attention to the Symptoms and Treatment section on this page, as it provides information on how to tell the difference between a cold and flu (treatment is different, so it pays to know!), when to see a doctor, and tips for caring for someone who has the flu.

If you want up-to-date information about the current flu season, including the latest activity maps and news, the CDC Seasonal Influenza website is the place to turn.  In addition to updated statistics, the site has a resources area that contains links to printable materials and videos regarding the flu, prevention and treatment.  If you really want to stay on top of the flu, there is even a mobile app provided on the resource page.

Para obtener informacion sobre la gripe en espanol, el CDC tiene una traduccion complete de su pagina de gripe.  El sitio incluye le version espanol de los materials de recursos gratis, listos para imprimir.

- Laura N.
Photo courtesy of CDC/Amanda Mills


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