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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
7:18 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Editorial: Influenza season is creeping up on us

Did you know that the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War I?

The estimated numbers are between 20 to 40 million people succumbed to what we now call the flu.

Some estimates have been at 100 million because communication wasn't a Tweet away and some towns were so overrun by the dead, they just created many mass graves.

Now, the flu may annoy us and keep some of us off work for a few days, but, mostly likely, you'll be just fine.

Of course, in some cases it can lead to death and we have heard of some children, the chronically ill and elderly passing away from it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May.

So, who is at risk?

Yearly influenza epidemics can seriously affect all populations, but the highest risk of complications occur among children younger than age 2 years, adults aged 65 years or older, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain medical conditions, such as chronic heart, lung, kidney, liver, blood or metabolic diseases (such as diabetes), or weakened immune systems, according to the World Health Organization.

Seasonal influenza spreads easily and can sweep through schools, nursing homes, businesses or towns. When an infected person coughs, infected droplets get into the air and another person can breathe them in and be exposed.

The virus can also be spread by hands contaminated with influenza viruses.

What can you do?

Get a flu shot and practice commonsense habits: cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and wash your hands regularly.

The WHO recommends annual vaccination for:

• Pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy.

• Children aged 6 months to 5 years.

• Elderly individuals (+65 years of age).

• Individuals with chronic medical conditions.

• Healthcare workers.

A couple myths about the flu for you from Harvard:

­• Feed a cold, starve a fever?

NO! If you have the flu and a fever, you need more fluids. There's little reason to increase or decrease how much you eat. Though you may have no appetite, "starving" yourself will accomplish little. And poor nutrition will not help you get better.

• You can't spread the flu if you're feeling well.

Well, actually, 20 to 30 percent of people carrying the influenza virus have no symptoms.