As the weather warms and people begin to get out more, we are sharing common spaces we had avoided when it was colder, snowing or raining over the winter.
It also means we are exposing ourselves to more viruses and infections that have had time to incubate in relative isolation. Heading to work and sending children back to school means those viruses find new incubators — humans — spending hours together in confined spaces.
While some Sedona residents traveled the globe for the holidays, many others had relatives and friends come here, meaning there are numerous types of communicable diseases, colds and strains of flu viruses making the rounds. Others are planning trips for spring break next week, exposing themselves to new diseases in other parts of the country and potentially bringing them back home.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, flu activity peaks between December and March, sometimes extending into May. A few things are new this season, according to the CDC:
- Only injectable flu shots are recommended this season.
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses.
- There will be some new vaccines on the market this season.
- The recommendations for vaccination of people with egg allergies have changed. People who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg can get any licensed and recommended flu vaccine otherwise appropriate for their age and health. The vaccine should be given in a medical setting and be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions
- A generic version of the flu antiviral drug oseltamivir is available as a pill.
Flu is normally the biggest threat to infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, which can cause death. Generally the young and middle-aged suffer symptoms, feel miserable and stay home to recover.
Influenza can be diagnosed with a test but symptoms are usually clear. They include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and in children, vomiting or diarrhea.
Use antibacterial wipes on commonly touched surfaces like faucets and door handles. Wash your hands often. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already — they are offered for free or for a nominal fee around the Verde Valley. Avoid those who are sick.
If you or your loved ones feel ill, stay home away from others and do what you can to prevent catching and spreading the flu.