The 2017-2018 flu season is proving to be a nasty one. Flu is widespread in 43 states, including New York. There are two main strains of influenza circulating throughout the city: influenza A and influenza B. This year’s vaccine is not as effective in preventing the illness as earlier vaccines, which has made more people vulnerable to contracting the flu. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can reduce your risk of contracting the flu (or another strain, if you’ve been hit once already). Here’s what you need to know about the flu in New York City:
Flu Season Is Far From Over
Traditionally, we see flu season peak sometime around January, which means flu cases begin to level off and diminish. While there is some recent evidence that the flu is beginning to peak around the country, it’s peaking much later than usual. This means we’ll continue to experience flu activity throughout the rest of winter and into the spring. Although it’s rare, flu season can last into May, so you still have time to get the flu vaccine if you haven’t already. Even though the flu vaccine has not been as effective in preventing the flu, it can go a long way in reducing the troublesome symptoms of the virus and preventing potentially deadly complications.
The Flu Can Be Deadly
For many New Yorkers, the flu results in a few days of general unpleasantness. You may feel terrible, but the flu can resolve itself in about a week with self-care. There are certain populations, though, in which the flu can be very risky. These at-risk groups include pregnant women, children younger than age 5, and adults older than 65. Seek medical treatment immediately if you or a loved one are in one of these at-risk groups and experiencing flu-like symptoms.
It’s important to note that people don’t always die directly from the flu, but rather from complications that can result, such as pneumonia. Seek medical help if you’re still not feeling better after a few days, are experiencing a persistent high fever that’s not well-controlled with medication, or have difficulty breathing. More than 2,000 New Yorkers died of flu complications in 2014, so err on the side of caution and see a doctor if you feel ill.
You Can Help Prevent the Spread of the Flu
The flu can be very contagious in large cities, and you might be contagious longer than you think. If you’re experiencing symptoms of illness, stay home and take care of yourself until you feel better. Don’t go to work or run errands because you could be exposing others to the disease. You might have the flu if you experience any of the typical symptoms:
- sore throat
Contrary to popular belief, intestinal symptoms such as vomiting are diarrhea are uncommon with influenza. Though you may only feel ill for a few days, you could be contagious for up to a week, so use caution even when you’re feeling better.
If you’ve successfully avoided the flu so far, you can continue to do so by washing your hands. Wash them frequently with hot water and soap, which is more effective than hand sanitizer. Avoid touching public handrails and putting your hands near your nose or mouth. If you’re at high risk for complications, consider wearing a mask over your mouth and nose for extra protection.
Flu season will continue to pose problems for New Yorkers well into March and April. By following some basic precautions, you can reduce your risk of getting or spreading the disease. Follow these tips from our New York City personal injury attorneys to enjoy a flu-free spring.