This year is turning out to be a banner one, at least if you happen to be a pathogenic (disease causing) bug. Three are making a major comeback: H3N2, nora virus and pertussis. Before you press that panic button, you should know that all three are to a large degree preventable.
Influenza is a illness you definitely don’t want to catch. More than just a “cold”, this bug makes you feel like that last hangover was a walk in the park. You feel weak, have a headache, fever,muscle and joint aches, cough and often vomiting and diarrhea. To make matters worse the treatment, Tamiflu only shortens the course by a day or so. Even more serious-many people die each year from influenza. It turns out that while this year’s strain is more potent, it happens to be the strain that was correctly predicted. The flu vaccine contains the right stuff to prevent or at least seriously reduce the risk of getting very sick from this year’s influenza strain. Pregnant women can take the vaccine safely. It is definitely not too late to be vaccinated this year.
Nora virus often causes vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. It often affects young children, who are constantly touching everything around them and thus at higher risk for passing on the virus. It can cause significant dehydration and with the fluid loss low levels of critical electrolytes such as potassium and sodium. Prevention is simpler for adults than for children: Frequent hand washing, wipe off phones, doors and anything else you touch on a regular basis. The virus is very sensitive to most antiseptic agents.
Whooping cough has been around for ages. Most are vaccinated against this respiratory illness. Unfortunately, the vaccine wanes and older adults might not have enough remaining immunity to prevent the disease. Also, some parents are withholding the vaccination. They are concerned that the vaccine might cause autism, which is definitely not the case, based on multiple well designed studies. If not enough are immunized, then the disease can still be passed around. It presents with severe cough, fever and can at times be fatal.Treatment is with antibiotics. This year has seen a huge increase in the number of whooping cough cases.
Simply put, it is better to prevent this infections than to treat them. Get yourself vaccinated against influenza and pertussis (if you already haven’t done so yet) and keep washing your hands.