Influenza: Potentially Deadly, but Largely Preventable

This chest x-ray of an infant’s lungs, featuring spotty, cloudy areas of lung tissue, shows a dangerous infection that is mostly preventable: influenza pneumonia.  This is not the standard flu bug that causes runny nose, sore throat and sinus pressure.  This is the variety that attacks the lungs, killing thousands of otherwise normal, healthy people in the US every fall and winter.

Influenza virus is spread directly by respiratory droplets from another individual, usually through a cough or sneeze.  In the case above, the infant was probably infected by the parent, and probably before the adult even knew that her or she was sick.

Influenza vaccine, otherwise known as the flu shot, significantly reduces the risk of infection and transmission.  It is currently recommended by the CDC for individuals 6 months and older, including pregnant women.  Dead influenza viral strains are used in the vaccine, which causes the body’s immune system to create antibodies within about 2 weeks.   Once formed, these antibodies fight off attacks by live virus.  Immunity will usually last until April for most people.

If you are a member of North Idaho Direct Primary Care and have questions about the flu vaccine, or are concerned about possible symptoms of influenza, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.  If you are not a member of our practice and would like to know more about how we operate, you can read here for more information.  If you found this article helpful, feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter.

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