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News > Commentary - Germbusters

Posted 1/15/2013   Updated 1/15/2013 Email story   Print story


Commentary by Capt. Mitzi Elliott and Amy Lohr
20th Aeromedical Squadrpn

1/15/2013 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- In any given year approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans come down with the flu between November and March (otherwise known as flu season). The flu can lead to serious complications, sending more than 200,000 U.S. residents to the hospital each year. In the United States, the flu claims the lives of about 36,000 people annually. In the state of South Carolina, since the beginning of the 2012-2013 flu season, 32,821 people have been diagnosed with the flu.

The flu is a set of highly contagious respiratory infections that spreads easily from person to person. The viruses are spread through tiny droplets of fluid that contain them. When people with the flu cough, sneeze or touch something after wiping their noses or mouths, they can pass these droplets to the next person. People with the flu can pass their illness to others as early as one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after they get sick. Once you are infected with a flu virus, your symptoms will develop one to four days after infection. Flu symptoms typically come on suddenly and may include:

-High fever (100-103ยบ F in adults and higher in children)
-Digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea
-Body aches and/or muscle aches
-Dry cough and runny nose
-Sore throat

The flu can be diagnosed clinically by the patient's history of association with persons with the flu. There is a rapid flu test that can be performed at the 20th Medical Group to confirm the flu diagnosis. Most of the symptoms caused by the flu can be prevented by receiving the annual flu vaccine. The CDCs recommendation is for everyone 6 months and older, who do not have any contraindications to vaccinations, receive the flu vaccine annually. Practicing good health and hygiene habits can help prevent the spread of the flu such as:

- Avoid close contact with persons who are sick
- Stay at home when you are ill
- Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Wash your hands! It is the number one way to stop the spread

The 20th Medical Group is now offering the flu vaccine to all TRICARE Prime beneficiaries enrolled to the Shaw medical facility. The 20th MDG has received shipments of both the flu shot and the live form of the influenza vaccine commonly referred to as the Flu Mist.
Note: AD military stationed at or attached to Shaw Air Force Base must receive their flu vaccine from the 20th Medical Group. Flu vaccinations are available in the Immunization Clinic and clinic hours are Monday-Friday 0730-1200 and 1300-1600. If you have any questions or need additional information please contact Public Health @ 895-6193.

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