The 2019 flu season is well underway. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates that six to seven million people have suffered one strain of influenza or another already this season. DogFlu.com reports two strains of dog influenza appearing in virtually every state. The CDC puts the number of (human strains) of flu-related hospitalizations, nationwide, between 69,000 and 84,000 people. With flu activity expected to continue in the coming weeks and months, we are focusing this week’s blog post on the preemptive measures you can take to stay healthy and avoid this unwelcome harbinger of winter.
What is the Flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by various strains of influenza viruses. Symptoms range from mild to severe, with serious outcomes resulting in hospitalization or even death. Certain people groups, such as the elderly, young children or anyone who has a compromised immune system face an increased risk of serious flu-related complications. Even relatively healthy people prefer to skip the virus altogether. Yeah, the flu (canine or the human variety) isn’t fun.
- Muscle or body aches
- Runny or stuffy nose (This is difficult to manage in the canine strain, since dogs don’t have opposable thumbs, so we can’t use facial tissue.)
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
- Click here for a link further explaining symptoms of canine influenza.
Although the flu and colds are respiratory illnesses, they are brought on by different viruses. Both viruses impact the upper respiratory system and share similar symptoms. As a result, suffers often struggle to tell the difference between the two. Most of the time, when it’s a cold, people are able to suffer through a runny or stuffy nose and rebound in a week. With the flu, symptoms are typically more intense and have the potential to lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections or hospitalizations.
How to Avoid Catching the Flu:
- Avoid close contact with sick people or puppies. If you must share airspace with them, wear a mask, whichmay help block airborne germs and prevent the transmission of germs from your hands to your mouth or nose. This seems wise for preventing the spread of other illnesses, too. Just a thought.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands. If you don’t have access to a tissue, sneeze into your sleeve to limit the spread of germs.
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and hot water. If neither is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. I’m not a fan of hand sanitizer because it makes my fur wet.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to limit the spread of germs.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.
- The CDC recommends getting the flu shot. Although several strains of flu exist, the injection combats many.
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