More than half of the regions of Virginia have been affected by flu this year, and children are particularly susceptible. AP Image
More than half of the regions of Virginia have been affected by flu this year, and children are particularly susceptible. AP Image

by Mena Mohamed

When thinking of the flu, people tend to recall common cold-like symptoms without comprehending how dangerous it can be. Despite these misconceptions, the flu has proven to be both a headache and a horror this year across the country.

The dominant strain of influenza this year, H3N2, continues to make its rounds across the nation.  According to usatoday.com, the annual flu is usually contained successfully by the standard flu shot, which scientists must adjust each year to accommodate for the ever-changing virus.

Usually, the vaccine is effective for at least 65 percent of patients. However, this season, it is only protecting a mere 23 percent. The virus has since mutated and led to a disarray of problems as it now becomes increasingly difficult to contain.

With elevated activity from coast to coast, influenza is annually categorized as an epidemic by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Statistics this year show no change for the better in both number of patients and severity.

The CDC reports also show that in comparison to last year, this season brought widespread activity in Virginia with more than half of the state contracting the virus.

According to the CDC, typical flu season symptoms include fatigue, coughing, sneezing and fever. When junior Isis Muriel contracted the virus earlier this year, she had to stay home from school for an entire week to avoid getting others sick. “It was horrible. The fever was intense, and my throat was in really bad pain. If you have it, just don’t come to school,” Muriel recalled.

Perhaps even more alarming are flu-related flash deaths that come completely as a surprise, usually within one week of contraction. So far, the US has seen the flu-related deaths of 61 children and teenagers; three of them were from Virginia. “It’s actually a pretty dangerous and extreme virus that I think some people downplay. Honestly, it’s better to just get your kid vaccinated than to risk it,” said junior Katherine Siles-Ortuno.

Even as the new statistics stand, prevention is still the most effective method in curbing the flu. Despite sharing the building with about 2,000 other individuals, it is still possible to safeguard against the flu by remembering a few simple tips.

Health.com recommends the basics: Drink plenty of juice, avoid contact with anyone sick, and sanitize regularly to keep yourself safe and protected this dreaded flu season.

AP Photo