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Each year, over 200,000 people are hospitalized due to complications caused by the flu. That’s over 200,000 reasons to get your annual flu shot, but what else should you know?
The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Contrary to popular belief, the seasonal flu is not caused by a single virus. Human influenza A and B cause the seasonal epidemics we frequently see during the winter, while influenza type C infections cause mild respiratory illness.
Experts believe the flu is spread when sick individuals sneeze, cough, or talk. People with the flu can spread it to others up to six feet away. Less frequently, an individual may get the flu by touching a surface or object the flu virus is on and then touching their own mouth or nose.
Getting vaccinated with the annual flu shot should be your first priority. You can also take simple, everyday actions to prevent the flu: Wash your hands regularly or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer; disinfect surfaces and objects that are potentially contaminated; avoid contact with sick individuals; cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing; and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Anyone that has had the chickenpox can get shingles later in life. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus doesn’t go away. It stays in the body in an inactive state and will reemerge as shingles later in life. About half of all cases occur among men and women 60 years of age or older. People who develop shingles typically have only one episode in their lifetime. In rare cases, however, a person can have a second or third episode.
The first stages of whooping cough are similar to the common cold (runny nose, sneezing, and cough). After a couple of weeks, whooping cough causes spells of violent coughing and choking, making it hard to breathe, drink, or eat. This cough can last for weeks. Whooping cough is most serious for infants, but it is recommended that all adults receive the vaccination to keep everyone around them healthy.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by the bacteria called pneumococcus. This bacteria can cause ear infections, sinus infections, meningitis, and sepsis (blood stream infection). Sinus and ear infections are usually mild and are much more common than severe forms of pneumonia.
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