Deadly Flu?

By: Rachel Calderon
By: Rachel Calderon

After four southeastern Michigan died unexpectedly, parents are wondering when flu symptoms are something they should be more concerned about.

If the flu is accompanied by the following, you should seek medical attention:

  • Fever

  • Altered mental state

  • Sore or stiff neck

  • Problems with bleeding

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Persistant headache

People can also get the flu shot, as there is still an ample supply, and it's not too late in the season for them to be effective. The Health Department also recommends frequent hand washing to stop the spread of any seasonal ailments.

The Health Dept. also says two of the deaths occurred in Washtenaw County and two others were in Oakland County. None of the cases appear to be linked.

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Influenza

  • Influenza (the flu) is a contagious disease that is caused by the influenza virus.

  • The flu attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs).

  • The flu is different from a cold, and the flu usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Tiredness
    • Dry Cough
    • Nasal congestion
    • Body aches

  • Most people who get the flu will recover in one to two weeks, but some people will develop life-threatening complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu.

  • People 65 years and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, and very young children are more likely to get complications from flu.

  • Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu.

  • The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

How the Disease is Spread

  • The flu is spread, or transmitted, when a person who has the flu coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends flu virus into the air, and other people inhale the virus.

  • The virus enters the nose, throat, or lungs of a person and begins to multiply, causing symptoms of the flu.

  • Flu may, less often, be spread when a person touches a surface that has flu viruses on it – a door handle, for instance – and then touches his or her nose or mouth.

  • A person can spread the flu starting one day before they feel sick.

  • Adults can continue to pass the flu virus to others for another three to seven days after symptoms start. Children can pass the virus for longer than seven days.

  • Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body.

  • Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons can still spread the virus to others.

What Should You Do?

  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Avoid using alcohol and tobacco
  • Take medication to relieve the symptoms of the flu

  • Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics (like penicillin) don’t work to cure it. The best way to prevent the flu is to get an influenza vaccine (flu shot) each fall, before flu season.

  • Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms – and particularly fever – without first speaking to your doctor.

  • Giving aspirin to children and teenagers who have influenza can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome. Children or teenagers with the flu should get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and take medicines that contain no aspirin to relieve symptoms.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluinfo.htm (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Flu Facts Web site) contributed to this report.


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