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Fixin' Healthcare

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Influenza Concerns

How could you not notice all the attention lately to influenza? Well, it is coming upon flu season and there is the concern about bird flu plus the discovery that the deadly 1918 influenza virus was a bird flu. Should you be concerned? Yes! Should that concern rank above plans for your diet and physical activity this week? No!!!

The virus and the conditions (World War I) for the 1918 pandemic were unique. This could happen again but the risk is low. An epidemic requires a population susceptible to the infectious agent and it moves faster and further when more people are exposed to infected hosts. When a significant and critical segment of the population is immune, it is more difficult for the infectious agent to spread.

Keep in mind that children and young adults have a more effective immune system than older adults, and children and young adults are more mobile than older adults. The best advice is to follow health department guidelines for influenza vaccination and vaccinate the children and young adults first. That is the best way to protect us old guys.

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