HealthCheck

New wave shows flu season not over yet

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Earlier this winter, thousands in the area felt the wrath of influenza A. Now a B-strain is making the rounds, and thousands more are getting sick.

Dr. Evelyn Wiener, Director of Student Health at the University of Pennsylvania isn't surprised by the second wave of influenza.

First Flu strain A, which can be more severe, hits. Then later, around late February or early March, Flu strain B hits

.

"We usually think of B as being a somewhat milder illness. This year we are hearing reports people are having pretty notable symptoms," Dr Wiener says.

Weekly surveillance reports from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey health departments echo that. Confirmed cases of influenza Bhave been rising in recent weeks, and now makeup the vast majority of flu in the area.

As with flu A earlier this winter, the Lehigh Valley and southeastern Pennsylvania are big centers for the virus.

Check out the latest reports at www.flufreepa.com or New Jersey Health Department

I wondered if the illness I had last week could have been flu B.

My symptoms came on suddenly; I had chest congestion, cough, fever, chills and body aches.

"It sounds like it could have been - the way I usually describe flu is it is a total body illness," says Dr. Wiener.

But I was fortunate, that the fever and body aches only lasted three days.

I did get the flu shot this year. So even if I still got the virus, experts say the illness is shorter and less severe due to having some protection.

One ear still feels congested, though.

Dr. Wiener said it appeared to be improving. " It actually looks pretty good."

This year's vaccine includes coverage against one strain of influenza B, and fortunately it matches pretty well.

Doctors say it is not too late to get a flu shot.

And you should also continue other prevention measures.

*Wash your hands frequently

*Get plenty of rest

*Eat a healthy diet

If you do get sick, stay home.

"Rest, fluids, medication to bring down the fever and help with body aches, most people do not need anything more than that," says Dr. Wiener.

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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