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Radio Shows | What is the Flu? | mp3wmawav

Every year, Americans line up for their flu shots but many more ignore the recommendations and simply take their chances.

If this is you - the statistics may make you reconsider. In an average year, the CDC reports about 90 million flu cases in the U.S. and 36,000 deaths.

Yet most of us don't worry because almost everyone infected with the flu virus recovers in one to two weeks.

But some people can develop serious and potentially life threatening complications, like pneumonia. The elderly and people with chronic health problems are more prone to develop these complications.

The flu is caused by a virus. Humans can be infected with three different groups of influenza viruses types A, B, and C.

Type C influenza virus is different than the A and B types - usually causing either mild or no symptoms at all.

Types A and B on the other hand are the ones that make us sick.

Normally influenza B causes a mild illness but in the elderly and immune compromised - it can be severe.

Influenza A is the one we're most concerned with and it can cause the epidemics and pandemics we worry so much about. It's also the one we focus the flu vaccines on every year.

The challenge for vaccine makers is that there are countless variations within the Influenza A type. They're categorized according to the proteins on the surface of the virus.

What protects people from influenza viruses is the immunity we develop to these surface proteins and getting a flu shot can help us do that.

If you need an incentive, just recall the last time you got the flu: you probably felt like you got hit by a Mack truck.

So reduce your risk of getting sick. Get the shot that can protect not only you but those around you.

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For more information...

The Centers for Disease Control have extensive web page information about influenza. There are key facts about the virus and the disease as well as information about what to do should you get sick. There is statistical information about flu cases around the US. There is also information for health professionals. For more information...

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is the federal agency that supports research on influenza and immunity. They have compiled an excellent fact sheet that includes links for additional information.

The World Health Organization is the United Nations specialized agency for health. It was established on 7 April 1948. WHO's objective, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. They have a large and detailed web page with influenza information, including data from the global influenza surveillance program.


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