If you plan to travel to Boston this winter or already live in the area, do yourself a huge favor and make sure to protect yourself against seasonal influenza, also known as simply the flu. The flu season is hitting the Bay State, in addition to ten others [PDF], particularly hard this year, resulting in a noticeable increase in the number of confirmed cases of the illness.
People who should follow extra stringent measures to avoid getting seasonal influenza belongs to one of four high-risk groups:
- Anyone with a chronic medical condition, whether a child or adult
- Women who are pregnant
- Adults aged 50 years or older
- Children between the ages of six months and five years
To help slow the spread of flu-causing germs and avoid catching the highly contagious virus, the Massachusets Department of Public Health advises everyone to:
- Get an annual flu shot
- Frequently wash their hands with soap and water
- Always cover their mouth when they cough or sneeze and then wash their hands again
- Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
- Steer clear of others who are sick with the flu
If you’re in Massachusetts and notice any of several common signs of seasonal influenzas — such as intense and persistent fever and body aches lasting several days, a dry cough, and/or extreme tiredness continuing as long as weeks — see a doctor immediately. Medical intervention is especially necessary for those who belong to one of the four high-risk groups listed above because influenza can open the doorway to more serious diseases. Then if diagnosed with the flu, abstain from contact with others so that you don’t pass it on to someone else.
For more information about flu clinics throughout Massachusetts, visit the MassPRO Flu Clinics website. And, for general details about the kinds of flu, their symptoms and causes, and recommended prevention methods, visit the Influenza Website maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
As someone fortunate enough to have never caught the flu (yet), I hope everyone reading this is as lucky.