During flu season, protect your family all you can

by Debbie Linder

Special to The Free Press

It is the season for “The Crud” to be upon us. Unfor­tunately, the flu and cold season has returned.

Did you know that 100 years ago, the world was fighting the worst flu pandemic ever recorded in history? (The world also was fighting World War I— just a fact!) They called it the Spanish Flu Pandemic. It actually began during summer of 1917 and lasted through the winter of 1920. It is unknown why after three previous winters, the epidemic—maybe it had no one else to infect.

Some 500 million people in the developed world alone were infected with the Spanish Flu, and 50 million of them died. The flu also spread through Africa, Asia, and South America, but records in those countries were incomplete. So, we know that the numbers of infections and deaths were even higher than 500 million and 50 million, respectively.

The first recorded case was in the United States— Kansas to be exact! So why was it called the Spanish Flu?

By 1918, the virus left Kansas and spread across Europe, likely partly due to the war. Spain gave it wide media attention that year so people began to refer to it as the Spanish Flu.

What was different about this flu than the manifestations we experience now?

Today, we worry about babies and elderly and those with compromised immune systems. The Spanish Flu attacked people who were strong and healthy. Their systems reacted so violently to the virus that a cytokine storm—a fatal immune reaction—resulted. This population experience the greatest mortality rate.

So what happened to the horrible virus? Nobody knows. After the winter of 1920, it disappeared. Medical researchers are still studying, but are leaning toward the present-day virus otherwise known as H1N1, as a “residual” form of the 1918 Spanish Flu virus.

All that, to say this: We need to do all we can to protect ourselves, families and students. Flu vaccines are one way to do that. The H1N1 is one of the strains that is included in the flu vaccine. Please encourage people you know, the healthy as well as the old and sick, to receive the vaccine.

Another way to protect ourselves from the virus is good handwashing and use of hand sanitizers. Please make a conscience effort to wash your hands after using the restroom, blowing your nose, sneezing and coughing. Use hand sanitizers frequently throughout the day to keep virus at bay.

Once a day, go through your home and wipe down light switches, door knobs, telephones, toilet flush handles with disinfectant wipes. Wiping off frequently touched surfaces daily will help prevent virus and bacteria transmission.

Also, staying home when you are coughing and not feeling well or wearing a mask out in public will help protect others. Essential oils have become a hot topic in health care. There are some folks who feel they are very helpful. If so inclined, search around to find an essential oil representative near you.

I realize this is a controversial issue, and now everybody knows where I stand on it. However, I know God gave us a free will and we all make our own choices. Therefore, even if you do not believe in vaccines, they will help protect you and others from the flu.

Debbie Linder is a school nurse in the Hope school system.