MORRISTOWN, NJ - Ebola seems to be the sickness that everyone is talking about. But in the United States, there are about 36,000 people each year who die from complications from the flu. Only one out of four people infected by Ebola have died in this country.
Flu season has arrived and the upcoming cold days will make many people too reluctant to go outside. Germs, which thrive in closed and warm environments, spread faster. And more people will attain the sickness unless they know how to protect themselves.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new viral strains of influenza originate from birds and pigs every year. The strains spread from Southeast Asia to the United States and Europe.
Influenza is an airborne infection. If a person breathes in the tiny droplets from an infected person's coughs or sneezes, they become infected. The flu can also be caught if one touches something with the virus on it and touches their eyes, nose, or mouth.
According to the Atlantic Health website, Ebola cannot spread until symptoms appear. A person can become infected if they come in direct contact with any objects, surfaces, and materials contaminated by a sick person's body fluids like sweat, saliva, and urine. The virus can also enter through any openings in the skin and through the nose, mouth and eyes.
The flu can cause medical complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, and seizures. Ebola survivors are immune from the virus for ten years or more and can no longer spread it.
Those affected by the illnesses are isolated to prevent future outbreaks. Flu patients need to stay in their homes for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone. Most people feel better when their temperature drops by 1 degree, leaving their recovery time, and further spreading the disease.
Ebola patients are quarantined in hospitals. Treatments include fluids given through an IV, blood pressure management, oxygen, blood transfusions, and treatment for other infections. If a patient receives good medical care, there is a higher chance for survival.
The best way to prevent the flu is to attain a vaccine. However, according to the Atlantic Health Education website, flu vaccines cannot prevent all cases of flu.
In all cases, to prevent both sicknesses from spreading, there needs to be no contact with people who have the symptoms. To protect oneself, it is recommended that one washes their hands constantly, uses hand sanitizer throughout the day, and avoids touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
Food and dining utensils should not be shared amongst the uninfected and infected. And good hygiene, such as covering coughing and throwing away tissues after use, needs to be practiced.
How could one combat both problems? By keeping oneself up-to-date on the latest news of both sicknesses and taking measures to prevent the spread.
For more information, search the websites of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov/ and Atlantic Health http://www.atlantichealth.org/atlantic/