Posted by: Duke Raleigh Hospital | December 31, 2012

“Aaaacchhooooo!”; A Universal and Seasonal Language

According to reports from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, flu season has hit the tar heel (and blue devil) state far and wide.

While this is the most severe North Carolina has seen in a decade, we are not alone. Dozens of other state entities have already reported a significantly higher number of cases this year as well.

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What exactly is the flu?

Influenza, more commonly referred to as “the flu”, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

How do you know if it is the flu or a cold?

Flu like symptoms include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (worn out), and some may experience vomiting or diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea is a more common symptom in children than adults.

How can I prevent getting the flu?

The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season.

  • The “flu shot”- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The seasonal flu shot is approved for use in people 6 months of age and older, including healthy people, people with chronic medical conditions and pregnant women. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses cause by no influenza viruses.

Who should get vaccinated and when?

Vaccine experts say that everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year starting with the 2010-2011 influenza season.

The flu vaccine is available throughout the season, which can last as late as May. It is never too late to get vaccinated, call your primary care doctor or local pharmacy to get vaccinated today!

What can we do to stop it?

Besides getting vaccinated and encouraging your loved ones to do the same, the CDC has some everyday steps you can take as well.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; this is how germs spread. Eww!
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Healthy habits such as plenty of sleep, exercise, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating healthy food.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay at home at least for 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

In an attempt to control the spread of influenza amongst the community and our patients, Duke Raleigh Hospital is enforcing these steps in regard to visitors.

  • Please limit visitors to two adults per patient at any one time. Limiting the number of visitors per patient will help control the spread of the illness.
  • Please do not bring your children on hospital visits. Since children are more likely to get sick and spread the flu or staff will only allow children under 18 to visit patients in special cases – or with prior approval from the patient’s healthcare team.
  • Please wash your hands frequently. Look for hand-washing stations around the hospital and use them often. Please make sure to clean your hands when entering and leaving the hospital either by washing with soap or rubbing your hands together with hand sanitizer
  • Please do not visit the hospital if you have symptoms of the flu. Signs of the flu include fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose or sore throat.
  • If you haven’t already, get the flu vaccine. Getting this simple shot can help increase your chances of staying healthy and avoid getting others sick.

In case you forget some of these steps, don’t worry – our staff will be giving you gentle reminders to make sure we are all doing what we can to keep everyone as healthy as possible.

Learn more here.


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