Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tissues, tea and TLC

This morning the State Capitol, engulfed in a dense freezing fog, looked like a scene from an old scary movie. It is really cold out there. 

While our winters are not as extreme as those in Minnesota or North Dakota, they are severe enough to give us our fair share of black ice on the roads, make our sidewalks very slick and let the flu virus run rampant. More often than not, the first two issues are successfully overcome by paying more attention behind the wheel and while walking, but dealing with the flu takes a lot more work. 

Nobody knows for certain why winters lay a welcome mat for the flu virus. One theory says it's because people are in closer proximity to each other due to the cold weather, according to another one it's because the virus is more stable when the air is cold and dry, and yet another theory suggests that the virus thrives in dry, warm (70 to 80 degrees) conditions, which is the usual room temperature when it's cold out. 

While scientists continue trying to figure that one out, we'll continue stuck with flu seasons during the fall and winter months. Fortunately, experience over time has taught us more effective ways of treating it.

It's not too late to get a flu shot
Wednesday's Yakima Herald editorial points out that the flu is not a common cold, so it should not be taken lightly. According to the Center for Disease Control and our Department of Health, the best protection against the flu is the flu vaccine. If you have not gotten it, go to the DOH's Flu Vaccine Finder to find out where it's available. It's not too late. 

Influenza is a serious ailment that has already claimed the lives of seven people in our state. Let's do our best to take care of ourselves and keep that figure from crossing the two-digit threshold. 

How is the rest of the country faring? 

Not all the states in the nation track flu deaths, of the ones that do, the highest number of fatalities as of January 15 is 27 in both Minnesota and Illinois, followed by 23 in Pennsylvania, 22 in South Carolina, 18 in Massachusetts, 17 in North Carolina, 15 in Indiana and 14 in New Hampshire.

Take a look at this snapshot of influenza activity in all 50 states for more information.

Read this story in Spanish here.