Flu season could hit Brevard hard


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The flu can leave you sick as a dog.

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Brevard County medical professionals are anticipating an active influenza season.

“We are a little bit early for the state and county and about three weeks early from where we have been historically,” said Michael Schuffert, director of emergency services at Rockledge Regional Medical Center. “Only about 10 percent of the viral issues have come into the emergency room. If the indicators are accurate since the Southwest Florida is busy now, it will be a wild one. As seen in Arizona, California and Texas, the wait times there now in emergency rooms are up to three hours and the far Northeast is really getting hit hard now and the flu is rolling in this direction. The snowbirds are bringing that stuff with them and it will be here in no time.

“The actual flu is a respiratory virus including stuffy nose, nasal congestion, body aches, chills, coughing and fever,” Schuffert said. “That doesn’t mean that some people can’t get an aggravated stomach.”

But prevention to not getting the flu is common sense, Schuffert said.

“Most basic is washing your hands, that is a huge impact in itself,” Schuffert said. “Avoid areas crowded with people. If you don’t have to, avoid malls and movie theaters that draw people in close proximity to one another. In general health, don’t let yourself get run down, eat well and keep yourself hydrated.”

Ah, but what if you do get it?   

“For most people, the flu is not a big deal since it is a common everyday virus. The very young and the very old — those are the ones we are most concerned about. Their immune health systems are very fragile. But for most people, stay home and out of the crowds and get lots of rest and take good care of yourself.

“People that are sick should not go to work or go to school because all that does is spread the disease,” Schuffert said.

Rumors and myths exist as far as the flu vaccine is concerned. Don’t believe everything you read online
is true.

“Unfortunately, this year’s vaccine is only 20 percent effective,” Schuffert said. “Every year prior to the flu season, the flu vaccine is based on trends put together with what they (manufacturers) think is going to be the strains in our area. Due mostly to production time, they must create the vaccine way in advance. They missed a little bit this year. The flu vaccine this year is mostly H2N3, but the virus this year is predominately Flu A that is hitting us. It (the vaccine) is still effective in preparing the body for the flu though.” 

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