Know flu symptoms, how to protect self
The flu is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory system, with severity ranging from mild to deadly.
The dominant strain this year is influenza A-H3N2 — a particularly brutal variety of the illness.
According to a new study, the vaccine is only 10 percent effective. However, doctors say it still reduces the intensity of the flu when it is contracted, and reduces the risk of death.
While often viewed as a seasonal nuisance, the flu kills more than 30,000 people a year. The illness:
• is more dangerous for the young and the elderly;
• causes fever, chills, sore throat, runny nose and cough;
• spreads through tiny droplets of bodily fluid released when talking, sneezing or coughing;
• can be contagious one day before symptoms develop and 5-7 days after symptoms begin;
• can lead to bacterial pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections.
The flu can be avoided and its spread limited by:
• getting an annual flu vaccine;
• staying home when symptoms are present;
• avoiding people who may be experiencing symptoms;
• washing hands regularly and coughing into your elbow.
GET YOUR SHOT: While the influenza vaccine is only 10 percent effective, it will reduce the intensity of the flu if it is contracted.