Newark residents are being encouraged to drink bottled water only because of a growing crisis over lead contamination in drinking water. Christa Kelleher, assistant professor of earth sciences and civil engineering at Syracuse University, says we are likely to see…
The Best Way to Protect Yourself from the Flu? Get Vaccinated
Lisa Olson-Gugerty, associate teaching professor in the public health department in Falk College, is a global health specialist. She answered a few questions about flu season, and the best way to protect yourself from getting sick.
01What’s the most important thing to do to reduce the risk of getting the flu?
Get vaccinated. You can still contract the flu even if vaccinated but it is believed that being vaccinated helps reduce the duration and severity of the disease.
02How does flu become a pandemic?
Influenza A is the strain that can cause a pandemic. Influenza A can be transmitted between humans and animals. The Avian flu is a strain of flu that can be transmitted from birds to humans and was responsible for the pandemic of 2009. This strain is the one that worries many healthcare and public health professionals. A well organized public health infrastructure and well-stocked healthcare system is needed to keep the Avian flu from repeating the devastation of the Spanish Flu in 1917-18. By the way, Syracuse was one of the hardest hit cities in the country during the Spanish flu pandemic! Influenza, B, C & D cannot be transmitted between human and animal as far as scientist know.
03How bad might the flu get this year?
The flu always has the potential to be bad. This year seems to be particularly bad, but we have to continue to watch and see what happens. The issue with the influenza virus is that it there are many strains of flu and there are other types of viruses that mimic flu-like symptoms, such as the adenovirus. The flu virus potentially can survive for hours as an aerosol mist in the air, as well as on table tops, door knobs, grocery carts, etc. Influenza virus is constantly mutating and adapting for survival, so it is hard to manage the risk of infection.
04Do you have suggestions for pregnant mothers-to-be? The elderly?
Get a flu vaccine and if recommended get a booster. Practice good general health practices, nutrition, sleep, hand washing, nutrition, etc. If feeling sick, stay home, minimize contact with others and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
05It seems with the various strains going around, people from most age brackets are vulnerable this season. Is it normal to have multiple strains like this?
Yes, absolutely. What people need to know is that anyone can get the flu and the best way to prevent individual sickness and prevent a pandemic is to get vaccinated. There is current research on creating a universal vaccine similar to the MMR and polio vaccines. This would reduce the need for annual vaccinations and potentially reduce the potential of pandemic flu outbreaks significantly. I believe the research is being done in Rochester, New York.