Flu season ignored the lingering warm weather and arrived right on time this fall, a sign there's no reason to be complacent or overconfident in dealing with this disease.
For most of us, contracting the flu during or just after the holidays is just plain inconvenient. We'll feel achy and feverish and suffer a lack of energy for a few days before we bounce back to normal. Some of us might get pounding headaches and queasy stomachs and decide to stay in bed for a day or two.
But for those whose immune systems are frail or compromised, the flu can be downright deadly. Children and the elderly tend to be the most vulnerable, and the flu can sneak up and steal precious lives without much warning.
That's why we all should take steps to prevent spreading the disease, as Tribune writer Mary K. Reinhart reported Saturday. Unlike a few years ago, flu shots are widely available and usually offered at affordable prices. If you have an aversion to taking the vaccine, simply washing your hands often with soap or an alcohol-based cleanser can significantly reduce the chances of infection.
If you do get sick, state health experts urge us to stay home from work or school to recover and to break the cycle of everyone catching the bug. Also, avoid sneezing or coughing into your hands. Use a tissue or an old-fashioned handkerchief or, if you have nothing else, a shirt sleeve, to minimize passage of the virus to others.
Yes, the flu comes from a variety of influenza viruses. So don't pester your doctor for antibiotics that won't work. It's expensive and could help to increase the resistance among disease bacteria, which only adds to our annual misery and puts more lives in danger.
For a complete list of flu season tips from the Arizona Department of Health Services, visit www.azdhs.gov/flu.