Flu gets an early start - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Flu gets an early start

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Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:14 am | Updated: 7:48 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A north Phoenix man in his 20s was reported as having the first confirmed flu case in Maricopa County on Oct. 19. Two days later, a Phoenix woman in her 90s became the county’s first death from flu-related complications. How bad will this flu season be? "It’s really difficult to make any predictions," said Arizona epidemiologist David Engelthaler.

October is early for the flu season to begin in Arizona, but it’s not unusual. The season is likely to peak in January or February.

Should I get a flu shot?

Most everyone older than 6 months is being encouraged to get vaccinated. October and November are the best months to get a flu shot. To get a vaccine, contact Community Information and Referral at www.cir.org or call (602) 263-8856.

Is there an alternative to a needle in the arm?

There is a nasal-spray vaccine. The spray is only for healthy people ages 5 to 49.

Anatomy of an infection

Flu is a respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus; symptoms include fever, sniffing, sneezing, coughing and aching.

1 Infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing tiny droplets containing the virus into the air

2 Virus enters respiratory tract Virus binds to cells

3 and releases its genetic information.

Virus replicates itself. Respiratory tract becomes swollen, inflamed.

4 As virus moves into the bloodstream, the first symptoms emerge.

Flu weakens the immune system, leaving it vulnerable to more serious infections, such as:

Bacterial pneumonia

Bronchitis Heart disease Ear infections Sinus problems

Encephalitis

SOURCE: howstuffworks KRT

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