You can blame the weather for winter flu season, if you like.Assistant state epidemiologist Dr Cort Lohff says when it’s cold, the heated air indoors is drier and helps viruses survive airborne longer, and people are also more likely to be cooped up indoors together, which helps germs spread. Each year, public health experts monitor strains of influenza in this and other countries, to see which ones seem to be developing and give North American doctors and pharmaceutical companies time to prepare before our winter flu season.Dr. Lohff says surveying the world health scene, health experts have identified the likely strains of flu expected to go around this year and developed vaccines for those varieties, and they don’t seem to think they’ll be particularly deadly. Doctors most often recommend flu shots for elderly patients and those with compromised immune systems.Dr Lohff says this year there’s a new recommendation to get the flu shots for young kids, age six months to two years, because they’ve learned that such children are as likely as anyone else to get influenza but more likely to be hospitalized. Lohff says some patients may fear their symptoms are West Nile virus, since there’s been so much news about the new mosquito-borne disease.Many of the symptoms mimic those of flu, the doctor says, like high fever, headache, aches and pains, and just feeling run-down.
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