Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Getting Past the Peak of Flu Season

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Getting Past the Peak of Flu Season

Article excerpt

The number of U.S. flu cases peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2015a), and flu season continues into May.

Up to 20% of the population gets the flu each year, the CDC says, and a bout of influenza can mean a week of absences for you or your students (CDC 2015b). People with the flu are contagious one day before symptoms develop and seven or more days after becoming sick (CDC 2015c). It's important to take the flu seriously because it can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, and other serious complications, according to the CDC (2015d), particularly among high-risk groups, including American Indians, Alaskan natives, and people with:

* asthma

* cerebral palsy

* epilepsy

* muscular dystrophy

* cystic fibrosis

* sickle cell disease diabetes

* kidney or liver disorders

* HIV or AIDS

* cancer

* obesity (body mass index, BMI, of 40 or greater).

It's too late for vaccinations this season, so that makes these prevention and treatment methods from the CDC more important (CDC 2015e):

* Wash your hands often with soap and water or hand sanitizer.

* Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

* Avoid close contact with sick people.

* Stay home when you are sick, and do not return to school for at least 24 hours after fever symptoms are gone (CDC 2014a).

* Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

* Forget the antibiotics--they fight infections caused by bacteria, not viruses that cause the flu or colds. Antiviral drugs, available by prescription, can ease symptoms and shorten the sickness a day or two.

* Keep your immune system in top shape by getting enough sleep and exercise, eating a healthy diet, and managing stress.

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Classroom activity

Flu topics students can research and write about include:

* A comparison of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and the 2009 H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic, with a particular focus on the responses of public health agencies. …

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