Know flu symp­toms, how to pro­tect self

Boston Herald - - NEWS - — LIND­SAY KALTER

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.

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