The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Monday, February 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View / Nasty flu season


Combatting bad viruses

It's a good time to be a bad virus.
Two bugs have been circulating this flu season, wreaking havoc. Both are sometimes colloquially called "the flu," but the two viruses are very different. Here's what you need to know.
First up is the influenza bug -- the actual, literal, flu. Nationwide, it's bad this season. In Snohomish County alone, already six people have been killed by the flu or flu-related complications.
To put that in perspective, in the past two flu seasons, a total of three people died. So in a couple months we've already doubled two years worth of deaths.
The flu mostly attacks your lungs, causing symptoms that include fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose and a cough. It's spread through the air thanks to that cough or an uncovered sneeze. Be sure to cover your mouth and wash your hands regularly.
Also, get vaccinated. As the Snohomish Health District notes, the flu vaccine is safe and provides the best protection against the bug.
This is worth emphasizing, since vaccines don't only protect you, the individual. They also help halt the disease's spread, keeping it from being passed on to people who may die if they catch it -- young children, the elderly and the infirm.
The other bug that's been making headlines is the highly contagious norovirus, also known as the Norwalk virus or, simply, the stomach flu. It causes all types of intestinal distress, including severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Last year, the norovirus made local headlines in Everett when it sickened roughly 200 people at a cheerleading competition at Comcast Arena. This year, it's making national headlines because a new more virulent strain is circulating.
Medicine won't cure the norovirus and there's no vaccine against the bug. Instead, it's up to your immune system to get rid of it. Usually you get over it after a miserable 48 hours.
And yet there is an almost comically simple way to protect yourself against the norovirus. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put it: "Practice proper hand washing and general cleanliness."
So wash your freaking hands, and do it right. Scrub them all over -- especially around the nails -- for about 30 seconds, or the time it takes you to slowly sing the alphabet. Always do this after using the restroom and before preparing food.
Keep in mind these two viruses aren't the only threats out there. Whooping cough, while no longer at epidemic levels locally, remains a problem. And then there's your run-of-the-mill colds.
In other words, it could be a long winter.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.