Rainy and Cold and a Bad Flu Season
It's the most wonderful time of the year (ah-choo!) when cold and wet nasty weather brings us indoors more for longer periods of time. Shopping in stores, in the car or trapped inside our own homes with the whole family for extended periods this weather brings us and our individual accompanying personal cloud of a billion germs that floats continually around us in much closer contact with one another. And then, achoo.
You dread the first time you swallow and notice that little lump of dull pain in your throat, are your eyes burning, now there's that tingle in your nostrils and it isn't the smell of the wassail setting it off.
Fresh from hurricane season we're careening into cold and flu season and like the annual dire prognostications of the tropics authorities, experts in the medical field are stepping up raising the alarm on what they think will be one of the worst years for flu in a long time across the entire country.
This year we're getting the nasty H3N2 strain, fresh from Australia where it was responsible for the four most fatal flu seasons in the past 10 years. Now for the bad news: the flu vaccine this year, that the scientists had to make a guess-at way back in April as to what strains to expect is only 10% effective against this Aussie strain. Still, this won't be the only virus floating around so a flu-shot is always an item worth full consideration, and vaccines lessen the severity of those that will get sick.
The H3N2 is particularly nasty, though it isn't purely the deadliest flu, it can mutate quickly making treatment hit or miss and sometimes difficult. Further details are available here.
Texas Already Hit Hard
One of the country's drug-store chains uses data collected from prescriptions that are being filled in various geographies to create the Walgreens Flu Index, tracking areas where common flu-fighting remedies to determine infection patterns have been purchased. It seems East, Southeast, and South Texas are already getting hit pretty hard. Out of the top ten metros reporting flu cases already the Beaumont, Port Arthur areas, just west across the border from SW Louisiana on I-10, is at number two in the state behind the South Texas town of Harlingen and Brownsville down on the border with Mexico.
Of the top ten states for the week of December 2nd, Texas was number one, Louisiana had not even appeared on the list, yet.
Try Not to Get Sick
Remember a few simple steps to help avoid getting the flu - wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. Once the water is warm, silently singing 'Happy Birthday' to yourself will provide an ample amount of time for you to wash well up to your wrists.
Clean the surfaces around you regularly, your keyboard, door handles, phone. I like those bleachy wipes out of the plastic can for a lot of this.
Use tissues when you sneeze or cough and throw them away right then, don't reuse them and don't use a cloth handkerchief either, you're just smearing the germs right back into your nostrils.
Be especially protective if you're over 65 or pregnant. An old person or pregnant lady with the flu isn't going to be any fun to be around.