Flu Facts

Flu Facts
Influenza, which is often referred to as just the 'flu' is caused by infectious influenza viruses that are spread through coughing, touching a surface that an infected person touched, or close human contact. Although a person can be contagious even before they have symptoms, common symptoms that suggest a person might have the flu include coughing, high fever, muscle aches and pains, runny nose, sore throat, headaches, and even just feeling very tired. Most often the flu will go away on its own within a week or so but some people can stay sick much longer, and develop complications that can become life threatening. To reduce the chances of contracting the flu there are vaccines available, and frequent hand washing is recommended.
Interesting Flu Facts:
People at higher risk for more serious complications from the flu include young children, the elderly, and those with other health issues.
It is estimated that each year there are between three and five million cases of severe illnesses in those who have contracted the flu.
Each year there are an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 deaths resulting from the complications associated with the influenza virus.
It is estimated that approximately one-third of those infected with the influenza virus do not have symptoms.
Common symptoms of the influenza virus include fever, couch, congestion in the nose, sneezing, aching joints and muscles, tiredness and fatigue, watery eyes, itchy eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea (in children mostly), and red skin especially of the face.
The influenza virus one year will change by the next year, meaning that vaccinations that work one year will not likely be effective the next.
The influenza A virus is the virus that was responsible for the Spanish Flu in 1918, the Swine Flu in 2009, the Asian Flu in 1957, the Honk Kong Flu in 1968, the Bird Flu in 2004, and other infections that have affected pigs and birds as well.
The influenza B virus is not as common as influenza A and only affects humans, seals, and ferrets. It is less common than influenza A and it mutates much slower. It is not responsible for the pandemics that have killed millions.
The influenza C virus can affect pigs, dogs, and humans and can result in severe illness but is much less common that A or B and children only become mildly ill if affected by influenza C.
Individuals more likely to become very ill from the flu include those with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, lung disease, sickle cell disease, neurological diseases that affect breathing or the throat's ability to swallow, pregnant women, children under the age of 5 (under 2 especially). Adults over 50, and those with weakened immune systems from diseases such as HIV.
Once infected a person should avoid contact with anyone until their fever has been gone for at least 24 hours, without the use of medications that bring the fever down.
Pandemics occur when the outbreak is widely spread and results in the deaths of many people. The most deadly outbreak in recent history was the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak that killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people around the world. Most of the deaths occurred because of bacterial pneumonia, a complication of the Spanish flu, although many also died directly from the flu.

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