2019 Flu Season: Cases on the Rise
The flu season is getting off to a fast start, featuring a strain that is especially affecting young children and is rapidly spreading throughout the country. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been over 5 million flu cases so far, with up to 57,000 related hospitalizations. Up to 4,500 deaths have been attributable to the flu, including 19 children.
The University of Arizona has come forward with new research suggesting that the type of strain that you first acquired as a child may be the determining factor in the quality of your immune system response in future infections of influenza. For example, if you are infected with a B strain of flu as a child, your immune system may have a better chance of combating it then if you had first encountered an A strain.
Holiday Flu Season
Many health experts are now predicting that a new flu wave is arriving in time for the holidays. This is not entirely unusual, as flu cases tend to increase over the holiday season when it is colder and larger groups of people are indoors in close proximity. Flu viruses also tend to grow in strength in winter when humidity is low and temperatures are colder. This also coincides with a period of time when our immune systems are weakened. There is also a higher number of people traveling during the holidays, allowing flu viruses to spread more quickly from individual to individual when packed in close proximity on transportation like planes and trains.
Holiday Parties and the Flu
If you are coming down with the flu and are planning to attend family gatherings during the holidays, you will want to prevent the spread of the virus to your family and friends. One way is to encourage anyone at risk to get a flu vaccine. If you are frequently sneezing or coughing, use a tissue or your sleeve to prevent the spread of the virus into the air. You may also want to wear a mask.
Since the virus can also be spread through direct contact, you should frequently wash your hands and keep a distance from others. One exception to these rules is if you are planning to be around elderly people or others who have a weakened immune system. In this case, health experts advise staying at home.