News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 17, 2013

EDITORIAL: Respect that dreaded flu

Use good sense in dealing with seasonal virus outbreak

The Tribune-Star

---- — There is nothing pleasant about the flu season, especially if you happen to be among those affected — directly or indirectly — by the nasty respiratory virus. The seasonal scourge, more pronounced during the cold-weather months, can truly leave a mark on people and families. We hope you’ve been able to avoid it so far, and will continue to do so.

We’ve been told in recent weeks by health officials that the flu is hitting particularly hard this year. That means, of course, that children, the elderly, or those already in fragile health, are even more susceptible to the bug’s dangers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that Indiana is in the middle of a cross-country band of “high-level activity” for the flu. It’s not likely to ease much in coming weeks, so health officials are asking that people employ their common sense in dealing with the matter.

That includes staying away from hospitals or nursing homes, etc., if you have the flu, or suspect that you have been exposed to the flu. The virus is highly contagious and is simply not something to mess around with. While the vast majority of people will not contract the virus, those who do will be subjected to an intense period of illness. The young and old can even find themselves in life-threatening situations. Already, the death toll from flu-related illness in Indiana is more than 25. It must be taken seriously.

The most recommended way for avoiding the flu is to get an annual flu vaccine. Although most people get their shot early in the season, the vaccine is available and could still be helpful in avoiding the virus. Check with your doctor, local pharmacy or health department. It’s not too late.

Exercising extra precautions in the way you live your life could also aid the cause of avoiding the illness. Just stick with the basics. Wash your hands with soap and warm water after you’ve been out in public or around sick people. And don’t share cups or utensils.

For most people, the flu is not something to be feared. But it’s wise to treat it with healthy respect. If you’re mindful of basic prevention methods and follow the suggestions of health officials, you will most likely not catch the virus. If you do, take care not to spread it, and take care of yourself. Symptoms in most common cases will ease in a few days.

You can’t avoid everything. But you can mitigate the chances of catching or spreading the flu if you use good judgment. Be careful. Be well.