The Flu, A Rising Epidemic

Ava Riach, Staff Writer

Woman getting a flu shot, taking the recommended precautionary measures for preventing the flu.

140 people have died from flu-related illnesses in North Carolina since October. 34 of those deaths were from the week of Jan. 28. According to The News & Observer, this is over five times greater than the 25 flu-related deaths in a similar period last year. More than 1,200 WakeMed patients have been diagnosed with the flu. Doctors are not sure of when flu season will peak, but it could last up to 12 weeks. North Carolina has been declared to have high, widespread flu activity from the CDC.

Children and elders are the most at risk for having flu-related complications. The flu can affect the immune system and cause other illnesses, including bronchitis. The dominant strain of the flu this year is Influenza A (H3N2). The CDC released an initial estimate that this year’s flu shot prevented infection with this strain only 25 percent of the time. A person with the flu can be contagious for up to two days before showing symptoms. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, body aches and more. If one experiences these symptoms they should stay home from school or work to prevent spreading the infection to someone else.

“It can show symptoms of a cold and then gradually get worse over time. With the flu it is common for you to run a high fever for several days, feel weak, have fatigue and body aches,” said Asia Taylor, sophomore, when describing her experience with the flu.

If one experiences serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or sudden dizziness, please seek medical attention.

Even though this year’s flu vaccine has been less effective compared to past years, getting vaccinated can lessen symptoms and reduce it from spreading further. 42 percent of flu-related deaths were vaccinated, while the other 58 percent were not vaccinated. It takes two weeks for a vaccine to fully take effect.

If a person has the flu, make sure they do not have symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning to school or work. Washing hands and using face masks if one is already sick can help reduce the spread of infection. If they are around people, cleaning their environment will help lessen the risk of having others get the flu.

“As a teacher, I try to wipe down my desks and surfaces as much as I can, just to kill whatever bugs are out there. I think in general we need to take more responsibility,” said Kristin Worrell, biomedical technology teacher.