By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Holiday cheer is in the air, but so is the flu virus, and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, this year we are in for a doozy of a flu season.
In fact, it has already hit.
And with a more resilient strain this year (the CDD says that the 2017-2018 flu shot is only about 10 percent effect) and colder temperatures nationwide, the Mexican Health Secretariat predicts that the number of infected patients will nearly double this season, compared to last winter.
The Christmas and New Year holiday season is particularly dangerous because it is a time when friends and family tend to congregate, potentially increasing exposure to the virus.
So far, more than 25,000 Mexicans have already been hospitalized with the disease, and that number is expected to pass the 100,000-mark by winter’s end.
Influenza viruses quietly circulate year-round in Mexico, but every winter they surge in numbers, triggering a seasonal epidemic of sniffles, sweats and sore throats.
This year’s flu season has hit earlier than usual.
So what can you do to stay healthy this season?
First, make sure you get vaccinated, if you haven’t already.
Even though the vaccine this year is less effective than in previous years, it is still your first defense against infection, and it can reduce your chances of getting sick.
Everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year,
Vaccination of high-risk people (the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with chronic illnesses) is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu iinfections.
Also, taking everyday preventive actions such as frequent hand washing and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze can cut the incidence of infection.
Be sure to clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
And finally, keep warm and bundled up.
A body that is cold is more susceptible to infection.
If you do come down with the flu, stay home and in bed, so you don’t infect others.
A case of the flu is not the kind of holiday gift you want to give, or receive.