MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
This winter, Americans will brace themselves against the advent of yet another flu season.
Marines and Sailors can protect themselves and their families by following a set of strategies and guidelines for combating the flu.
“One of the characteristics of the flu is that it is totally unpredictable,” said Jeffrey Dimond, spokesperson with the Centers for Disease Control. “Last year, several million people came down with influenza-like illnesses. They can expect several million more people in the coming season.”
The flu vaccine is an effective way that America’s healthcare system tries to control the spread of the flu. According to the CDC website, the vaccine works because experts attempt to predict which three flu strains will be the most prevalent during the next season and then make a shot for those three. According to Dimond, this year’s vaccine offers excellent protection against the H1N1 ‘Swine Flu.’ The vaccine is also expected to be a good match for the two other strains expected to be widespread this winter.
Even though the shot may offer good protection, proper hygiene is still a must.
“Cold and flu are viruses and they’re spread by airborne particulates, person-to-person contact, contaminated surfaces and unsanitary conditions,” said Lt. j.g. Leonard Robinson, preventative health officer at the Naval Health Clinic. “Clean any contaminated surfaces. Practice social discipline and keep some distance between yourself and sick people. Wash your hands. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough.”
It is important to remember not to sneeze or cough into your hands since that will contaminate them along with any surfaces they touch.
According to Dimond, those who get sick with the flu should stay at home rather than putting their coworkers at risk.
An antiviral medication can be proscribed by a doctor to knock out the flu within the first 48 hours of someone contracting the virus.
According to the CDC, the flu can be deadly. Between 1976 and 2007, the flu killed between 23,000 and 49,000 people in the United States per year.
Experts say that if victims of the flu are experiencing chest pains, shortness of breath, blue or purplish lips, yellow or leathery skin, decreased urination or confusion it is time to seek emergency medical treatment.
“The health clinic doesn’t have emergency care or urgent care for very serious conditions,” said Lt. j.g. David Cavalario, spokesperson for the clinic. “For very serious conditions, they should take them to a hospital.”
For a reference to local hospitals, call the Naval Health Clinic preventative medicine office at 466-0141. For more information regarding the flu, visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FightTheFlu.