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September 11, 2007 > Want to Stay Healthy This Flu Season?

Want to Stay Healthy This Flu Season?

Washington Hospital Seminar Focuses on Protecting Yourself from Influenza and Other Viruses

Nobody likes being sick. Sore throat, hacking cough, body aches. Sounds awful! In some cases, catching a nasty virus can also be deadly.
Learn how to protect yourself from influenza, including Avian flu, and other viruses at an upcoming Washington Hospital seminar on Monday, September 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. "Avian Flu and Other Viruses" will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, MD Auditorium at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register for the seminar, call (800) 963-7070.
Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by influenza viruses. Different from a cold, the flu can cause severe illness and even lead to death. Symptoms usually come on quickly and can include high fever, headache, extreme fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.
Anyone can get the flu. While most people recover in less than two weeks, the disease is more dangerous for some, including the elderly, babies under age 2, and people who already have other chronic health issues.
"Those who are at high risk of serious illness should get a flu vaccination," said Dr. Hoang Trinh, a family practice doctor at Washington Hospital's Nakamura Clinic, who will be presenting the seminar along with Dr. Dianne Martin, an infectious disease internist.
Trinh will provide helpful tips for protecting yourself from the flu virus and staying healthy this winter, typically flu season, including getting a vaccination. You need to get the flu shot every year because the virus strains change.

Avian Flu is a Type of Influenza

Avian flu, or bird flu as it is often called, is a type of influenza that occurs in birds. It has made headlines in recent years because there have been some cases of it crossing over to humans in some Asian countries. Martin will talk about the disease and how it is different from human influenza, as well as your risk of getting it.
"Bird flu is a much more aggressive strain of influenza," Martin said. "It has people concerned because it's so deadly, with an 80 percent average mortality rate in humans."

Avian flu is spread through regular close contact with birds such as chickens. Few people have that type of exposure to birds in this country, while in countries like Thailand and Vietnam, many families live in close proximity to the chickens they are raising for food.
West Nile virus is another disease that has its origin in birds, although it is transmitted by mosquitoes that have been infected with the virus. Trinh will provide an overview of the disease, including its history, signs and symptoms and ways to prevent it.
"It has established itself as a seasonal epidemic in the United States during the summer months," Trinh said.
About one in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop severe symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including neurological effects that can be permanent. Approximately 80 percent of people infected with West Nile will not experience any symptoms.
Trinh will also provide information about sudden acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, a serious viral respiratory illness. More than 8,000 people worldwide became sick with SARS in an outbreak in 2003, including eight in the United States who had traveled to other parts of the world.
Viruses can be serious threats to public health because there are no medications available that kill them. Treatments for influenza, Avian flu, West Nile, SARS, and other viruses are aimed at reducing the damage caused by the symptoms.
To learn more about staying healthy this flu season and protecting yourself from potentially deadly viruses, register for the seminar at (800) 963-7070.
For more information about other Washington Hospital programs and services, visit www.whhs.com.

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