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— I know everyone is worried about the flu. We get, I don’t know how many, calls a day with people asking questions and with concerns. I hope to answer some of those questions and put our mind at ease.

ABOUT TESTING

There are two types of flu, seasonal flu which consists of a type A and a type B strain, and H1N1 which is a specific strain of a type A flu. As I write this article we have done 14 flu swabs at the hospital and ALL were negative. Now the significance of that is the H1N1 flu virus will cause a regular flu swab, the kind we do here at the hospital, to be positive. To actually determine which strain of flu you are positive for requires further testing that only the Arkansas Department of Health is able to perform. The ADH is no longer separating the positive flu cases by strain because it is just not necessary. It just doesn’t matter; the flu is the flu. They are only doing H1N1 specific testing on hospitalized patients and pregnant women who meet specific criteria.

ABOUT PREVENTION

There are four important things to remember to help prevent the flu. 1. Wash your hands. Hand washing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent any bug from spreading. 2. Cover. Cover all sneezes and coughs with a tissue. If a tissue is not available, use your elbow or your shoulder to cover, NOT your hands. 3. Stay home. I know that’s hard. Do try to avoid large crowds and limit gatherings. Don’t take the kids to Wal-Mart. The fewer people you come in contact with the less likely you are to become sick. If you are sick, stay home. Keep your germs to yourself. You should stay home until you are fever free for 24 hours WITHOUT fever reducing medications. Remember not to give kids medication containing aspirin. Tylenol or Motrin is O.K. 4. GET VACCINATED. You CANNOT get the flu from the flu shot. Everyone should get the flu shot every year.

I understand it is going to be available to all the kids in the Gravette School District this year. They should get it. According to the ADH, the H1N1 vaccine is going to be distributed to high risk groups first. I think those who are in those groups should get the H1N1 vaccine also. The more people who get the flu shots, the fewer people who get the flu. The fewer people who get the flu, the shorter the flu season. The shorter the flu season, the fewer flu complications. The fewer flu complications, the fewer hospitalizations. The fewer hospitalizations, the better.

Well, that’s my spiel for the week.

News, Pages 7 on 10/07/2009

Print Headline: Dr. Tucker Says . . . Hints To Avoid The Flu

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