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Welcome to COPE's Flu Information Center

The flu season is off to an aggressive start this year. At the moment, the 2017-2018 season is being classified as moderately severe. Large numbers of Americans have fallen ill, and every state except Hawaii has reported widespread flu activity. But some regions have been hit harder than others.

Even the regular flu can stress schools, health-care facilities and workplaces. For that reason, advanced contingency planning is encouraged to reduce anxiety and limit the virus's spread.

Select the resource category that interests you below and click on the link. For breaking news and updates, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

How Employees Can Protect Themselves and Their Family
How Organizations Can Protect Their Employees


Frequently Asked Questions

How dangerous is this flu?

What are the symptoms of influenza?

How is the flu virus spread?

How rapidly is it spreading?

Does this year's flu shot work?

Are children at higher risk?

Is it worth getting the flu shot anyway?

How do I prepare for the flu?
 
 

A typical season mixes two Type A strains, H1N1 and H3N2, and two Type B strains, known as Victoria and Yamagata. H3N2 is the most dangerous of the four seasonal flu strains, but it is not new nor uniquely lethal.

A flu pandemic occurs when a virus mutates so drastically from previous strains that people have little natural immunity, resulting in widespread sickness and sometimes death. Influenza pandemics have occurred approximately every 25 to 30 years. The last pandemic took place in 1968 leading some officials to believe another outbreak is imminent.

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Influenza symptoms appear similar to those of the common cold. They can include:

  • fever 
  • cough 
  • sore throat 
  • fatigue 
  • headache 
  • body aches 
  • stuffy nose 
  • and chills 

Some affected people have also reported diarrhea and vomiting.

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All flu viruses spread mainly through respiratory droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People can also become infected by touching a surface with virus on it (such as a door knob or computer keyboard) and then touching their mouths or noses.

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At the moment, the 2017-2018 flu season is being classified as moderately severe. Large numbers of Americans have fallen ill, and every state except Hawaii has reported widespread flu activity. But some regions have been hit harder than others.

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Based on current information, the vaccine has been marginally effective against the H3N2 flu strain. Australia had a severe flu season with many deaths, and experts estimate that the vaccine prevented infection only 10 percent of the time. The shot's efficacy here has not yet been calculated because the virus is still spreading, but experts expect it to be about 30 percent. Also, in Australia, vaccination failed partially because it was urged for only the most vulnerable, while in the United States millions of healthy people are vaccinated.

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Like other flu viruses, people over 60 appear and young children are most vulnerable to the virus. And because children and young adults are more likely to gather in groups - at school and college - they are more vulnerable to infection. Precautions should be taken regardless of age or health.

Those first in line for flu shots are:

  • Pregnant women 
  • Infant caregivers 
  • Children ages 6 to 24 
  • People with respiratory ailments 
  • Health-care workers 
  • Emergency medical-service workers 

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Experts say yes, because even when the shot does not prevent you from catching the flu, it will likely lessen the severity of it.

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The more you plan in advance for the flu season, the more in control you are likely to feel. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What would I do if I heard from a reliable source that the flu is spreading?
  • Do I have sufficient food and medicines in case I am forced to stay indoors?
  • Do I have a copy of important medical information and a list of emergency contacts that I can carry with me in the unlikely event we have to evacuate?
  • Do I know what to do or who to contact if my workplace closes?

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Additional Resources

Home Health Care Basics: Taking Care of the Sick at Home

Personal Health Data Checklist

Emergency Contacts Checklist