Influenza — it's no one’s favorite word. If the mere thought of it gives you chills, then you've likely endured a bout. If you've never had the flu, you probably will one day: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) estimates that 5 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from flu during every annual flu season.
Health professionals recommend a flu shot annually, especially for people in at–risk groups. Flu vaccines change every year because the flu virus mutates; this year's strain is different from last year's.
Seasonal flu is common but not usually serious. Most flu patients convalesce at home and feel better within a week, although a cough and a feeling of lethargy may linger a few more days.
But seasonal flu is nothing to sniff at — pun intended. The CDC estimates more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized by the flu every year. And sadly, about 36,000 people in the US die from the flu and its complications annually.
Add to those grim facts the prospect of pandemic flu — a large–scale outbreak of flu that could devastate millions worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests there is a global risk of pandemic flu within the next few years. The threat is linked to the high mutability of influenza viruses; a strain such as avian flu could mutate into a type that could be spread from person to person. If that happens, a flu pandemic could have international consequences.
What does this all come down to? What should you do? Learn as much as you can about influenza. Don't panic. Come to this site often to find out more on the flu and learn of the plans and contingencies UNCG has in the works.
Now, go wash your hands.