This flu season has been marked by an early start and high activity across the United States.
For the week between December 30, 2012 and January 5, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 24 states and New York City were experiencing high rates of influenza-like illness.
In comparison, the 2011-2012 flu season set a record for the shortest and lowest peak of influenza-like illness.
“Many people confuse the flu and colds, as symptoms are similar,” said Susan J. Rehm, M.D., the medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.
“Knowing the difference can be simple if you know the 'F.A.C.T.S.' F stands for fever, A is for aches, C is for chills, T is for tiredness and S, this one might be the most important, it stands for sudden onset. Flu strikes fast, unlike a cold, which could take days to come on."
With so many getting sick this season, it is important to help prevent the spread of the virus. “The CDC recommends the 'Take 3' approach to fighting flu: 1. Take time to get a flu vaccine. 2. Take everyday preventive action to stop the spread of the virus. 3. Take prescription antiviral medicines if your doctor prescribes them,” explained Dr. Rehm.
Taking those preventive everyday actions can make a difference in spreading the virus to others. But, as Anna Post, the great-great granddaughter of Emily Post and the co-author of the 18th edition of the Emily Post’s Etiquette book, noted, “during flu season, when symptoms such as fever, aches, chills and extreme tiredness suddenly hit, it’s easy to forget ones manners.”
That is where it is important to know your flu etiquette. “Flu etiquette is being considerate of those around you if you are sick. Flu is highly contagious and droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel to others up to about six feet away,” Post said.
There are several situations where the flu can be easily shared from one person to another.