With the onset of the Spring and Summer months, few of us worry much about cold-season illnesses such as the flu. However, this is the time that places like the Centers for Disease Control begin to monitor the flu virus in other areas of the world that are in Fall/Winter months. So, in preparation for the U.S. flu season, CDC officials look to foreign countries on the other side of the world. This allows the CDC to pinpoint particular strains of the flu that are especially pathogenic and communicative. From these strains, a vaccine to combat them is made. In essence, the flu vaccine you’ll receive in the Fall has its start right around now. CDC officials will be especially looking for swine flu outbreaks in order to be sure to have enough vaccines on hand this next flu season if the strain shows up again. This may bring up the question as to why you simply can’t take last season’s swine flu vaccine and be safe. Due to the nature of the influenza virus, it is readily able to mutate and take on attributes of other flu strains it may come in contact with. Such changes can affect the makeup so much that previous vaccinations that were successful in preventing sickness, no longer work. This is why close monitoring is necessary in order to prevent another mass epidemic/scare.
Besides the vaccine, what are other preventative steps to take?
The best advice for flu prevention is very simple.
*Get enough rest, which allows your immune system to remain in its best shape.
*Eat healthy. This one cannot be stressed enough. Your body needs the right nutrition in order for you to remain healthy. If you simply cannot stay away from fast food joints, then opt for the healthier choices on the menu. If your body isn’t on the defensive, trying to get rid of all the unhealthy toxins pumped into it by consumption of greasy fast food burgers, then it is more readily able to fight off disease.
*Wash your hands, not because you may be carrying the virus, but because you never know who touched that door knob or keyboard last. Alcohol based hand sanitizers are great, but be wary, overuse tends to dry out your skin. If you do get sick, stay home if possible, and if you cannot, try not to contaminate areas where other people may be.
This next potential round of swine flu will be different from the last. Vaccines should be in ready supply, unless the virus makes a dramatic change, and I think the scare news from the media will not be as pervasive. I’ve never received a flu vaccine, and don’t plan on one anytime soon, but the decision to get the vaccine or not is absolutely at your discretion. Remember to sleep enough, eat well, and keep your hands clean and you’ll increase your chances of avoiding the flu and other illnesses immensely.