Answers to Last Issue’s Flu Quiz

1B. Influenza is caused by a virus.

The term ‘flu’ is often misused to describe a range of mild respiratory bugs including colds, but true influenza is caused by a par- ticular virus. Three types of influenza virus have been identified: A, B and C. Antibiotics are not effective against flu because they treat bacterial infections not infections caused by viruses.

2A Flu vaccine can’t give you the flu.

True. The flu vaccine cannot cause flu ill- ness. The viruses in the vaccine are either killed (as in the flu shot) or weakened (as in the nasal spray vaccine) which means they cannot cause infection.

3C. What chance does a healthy person have of getting the flu during an average year? It is between 10% to 20%.

On average, a healthy person has about a 10 to 20 percent chance of contracting the flu in a given year. The odds are higher during an epidemic of a very infectious influenza strain, especially if a person lives or works in a crowded environment.

4.The stomach flu and influenza are the same thing.

False. Stomach flu is a popular term for intestinal disease, whereas the flu is a lung disease. People who have the flu often feel some or all these symptoms: fever, head- ache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat and muscle aches. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can also occur with the flu, but are more common in children than in adults.

5. Which of the following common symp- toms is not usually a feature of flu in adults?

Bouts of gastroenteritis (inflammation of the intestines that causes diarrhea, pain, vomiting or fever) in adults are sometimes misleadingly referred to as ‘gastric flu’ but they are almost always caused by either

bacteria or viruses other than the influenza virus.

6A. What is the best time of year to be vac- cinated against influenza?

In autumn, just before the peak flu season. Flu vaccines differ from year to year and for best protection, you need to have them annually. If it is given too early, protection may not last through the flu season.

7.Getting a flu vaccine in December is not too late.

True. The CDC recommends that people get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine becomes available and that vaccination continues in December, January and beyond. Influenza activity normally peaks in February most years, but disease can occur as late as May.

8B. How long after exposure to the influen- za virus do people develop symptoms? Two to three days.

Flu has a short incubation period. You become infectious about a day before you begin to feel ill, and continue to be infectious for as long as the symptoms last, about three to seven days in total.

9.Flu viruses change constantly which requires a new vaccine to be produced each year?.

True. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on worldwide monitoring of influenza viruses.

10. Washing your hands is the best thing you can do to protect against the flu. False. The CDC recommends a flu vaccine as the first and most effective step in protecting against the However, preventative ac- tions like covering your cough and washing your hands often are important everyday steps that can help stop the spread of germs.

11C. Antiviral medicines such as Relenza (Zanamivir) and Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) are used to treat influenza.

These drugs need to be used within two days of onset to be effective. The medications are available by prescription from a doc- tor. They can make the flu less severe and reduce the likelihood of developing serious complications. They do not prevent the flu.

12B. Your chance of avoiding catching seasonal flu after being vaccinated is 70% to 90%.

It’s impossible to be sure what strains of flu will be circulating in the future, so scientists prepare the vaccine using recent strains which are considered most likely to be circulating in the season ahead. Usually this results in a vaccine which confers 70% to 90% protection. If a vaccinated person does catch influenza, they usually have a less severe illness and are less likely to develop complications.

13.The flu is not a serious illness.

False. Flu is a serious contagious disease that causes illness and related hospitalizations and deaths every year. Over a period of 30 years, between 1976 and 2006, estimates of U.S. flu-associated deaths ranged from about a low of 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

14D. During a case of the flu, which of  the following is a sign you urgently need to see a doctor? Shortness of breath. Symp- toms of influenza can range from mild to severe. If you are concerned about them, you should always seek medical atten- tion. In uncomplicated cases of flu, the best treatment is often bed rest, regular fluids, and over-the-counter medication. Shortness of breath though can be a sign of a serious complication such as pneumonia and if you have it, you should see a doctor straight away.

15A. Which of the following is a way in which flu can be spread?

Droplets in the air that are breathed out or sneezed out. The droplets are propelled through the air and make contact with an- other person’s nose or mouth. Flu can also spread by direct bodily contact (such as kissing) or touching something with virus on it (such as shaking hands with someone who has the flu) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. Research has shown wearing a face mask protects against the spread of flu.

16. You can spread the flu to others before you have symptoms.

True. You may be able to infect others be- ginning one day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

17.Bacterial pneumonia is a major compli- cation of of influenza.

True. Symptoms of pneumonia – high fever, chest pain when you inhale, yellowish-green mucus produced when coughing, and chills. If not treated on time, pneumonia can prove fatal.

18A. An episode of an infectious disease that spreads worldwide is known as a pandemic.

A pandemic is an outbreak of a new infectious disease that spreads over a very wide area or worldwide. An epidemic is an outbreak where numbers of cases are higher than expected. Endemic means the condition is present more or less continually in a population and doesn’t go away. So for example, influenza is endemic in the winter months but may also cause epidemics, and pandemics if it spreads globally and the population has poor immunity to it.