Ebola or the Flu? Which should you be more concerned about?

We can’t turn on the television without hearing about the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the first case in the United States. But should you be worried? The Centers for Disease Control state the following on their website, “Ebola poses no substantial risk to the U.S. general population. CDC recognizes that Ebola causes a lot of public worry and concern, but CDC’s mission is to protect the health of all Americans, including those who may become ill while overseas. Ebola patients can be transported and managed safely when appropriate precautions are used.”

I would certainly agree when you look at the facts. First, Ebola is deadly but it is much more difficult to become infected than with the flu. Ebola requires contact with bodily fluids including saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen. Whereas the flu can be transmitted by droplets that become airborne with a cough, sneeze or simply by talking. This can occur as far as six feet away. You can also become infected with the flu by touching contaminated surfaces.

The number of deaths from any illness is always devastating but for us flu should be our major concern. The seasonal flu is a serious disease that causes illness, hospitalizations, and deaths every year in the United States. The flu has killed between 3,000-49,000 people in a given season.

What can you do to protect yourself and your family? First and foremost, get vaccinated! This is a simple and effective way to decrease the odds of you becoming a statistic. Everyone 6 months and older should receive the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available.

Next, stop the spread of germs! How? Follow these simple steps.
• avoid close contact with sick people
• if you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities
• if you are sick limit your contact with others
• wash your hands often with antibacterial soap and water, or alcohol based hand rub if no water is available
• cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and then dispose of the tissue (if you don’t have a tissue, cough into you elbow)
• avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this is how germs spread
• disinfect objects that may be contaminated with the flu

Finally, if you get the flu and your doctor prescribes antiviral drugs, take them. Antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and shorter. They may also prevent serious flu complications. As always, contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your flu risks.

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by Laurie on May 27, 2014

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