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Guard against flu

As news reports last week indicated Ohio has at least two confirmed cases of the Wuhan strain of coronavirus, most health officials urged calm – and suggested the virus that has so far killed approximately 170 people is not the killer that should have our attention.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 8,200 people have died already this 2019-20 season … from the flu. At least 14,000 people have been hospitalized with regular old influenza so far this season. Back in the 2017-18 flu season, 61,000 people died, according to the CDC.

Influenza is an annual killer. Each year, one or more strains of the virus circulates, sickening hundreds of thousands of people. Right now, flu activity in the United States is high, and it is expected to continue at that pace for several more weeks. According to the CDC, more than one-quarter of all people tested for influenza in late January had confirmed cases of the flu.

Of course, most of us have suffered with and conquered the flu at some point in our lives. In fact, most adult probably have lived through it several times. For people with healthy immune systems, it usually causes little more than a few days of misery. But for those who are very young or old, otherwise ill or who have compromised immunity, it can easily be deadly.

And certain strains of the flu – such as the one that spread around the globe in 1918 – are especially dangerous.

Today we know that local schools are seeing a spike in flu (and other illnesses And local health departments are urging a little common sense as a better approach than panic over a novel strain of the coronavirus.

Get a flu shot. It’s not too late. Such shots are recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water; pay attention to the surfaces you are touching in public … or in shared workspaces or classrooms.

And, if you are sick – particularly with a fever – do your part to stop the spread. Stay home.

Sure, this new version of the coronavirus is scary. So is influenza.

Take it seriously, and do what you can to stop it.

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