The number of reported cases of flu in the area have been increasing in recent weeks, but this is by no means a banner year for the flu. There have been cases reported since late September. Dr. John Lanza, director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, points out the cases that have been reported are a strain of the flu called H1N1.
You may recall that the H1N1 flu virus was the cause of the Swine Flu pandemic back in 2009 and 2010. That outbreak had a heavy death toll in Africa and southeast Asia while the mortality rate was lower in Europe and the Americas and a recent study published in PLOS Medicine says the death toll from that pandemic is probably 10 times higher than originally reported by the World Health Organization.
But let's be clear, we are not talking about anything that deadly this year. Dr Lanza recommends the basics, including getting a flu shot for anyone over the age of six months and especially pregnant women.
The flu shot each year is developed about 9 months before the flu season, and health care officials have to make what is essentially a very educated guess as to which strains of the flu to include in the vaccine. Dr. Lanza says that this year they chose wisely.
Beyond that remember the three most important words your mother told you: wash your hands! And if you do get sick, stay home, get lots of rest and make sure you are well before returning to school or work.