If you seek health care services in Griffin, GA, you’re used to the annual appearance of the flu virus. You know that every year the flu vaccine to prevent the flu changes. That’s because the strains of the flu virus that are most common during a flu season can, and usually do, change from year-to-year.
How Your Body Reacts to Viruses
Your body does prepare its natural defenses against the strains of flu and other viruses that it has been exposed to previously. However, the strain of flu virus for the upcoming flu season may be different enough that your body doesn’t recognize the virus.
The new virus also may be so different that the defenses your body has built up against previous strains don’t work against the new strain.
Consequently, each year’s vaccine is created to protect you from the strains of flu that seem most likely to occur during that year’s flu season.
New Strains of Flu and New Viruses
As mentioned, new strains of flu viruses are variations on strains of viruses to which our bodies have already been exposed.
A new virus may be a virus that previously existed in mammals or birds, like the swine flu or the bird flu, that have found a way to infect people.
A new virus may also occur when two previously existing viruses infect the same cell at the same time. The genetic makeup of these viruses can become mixed together to create a totally new virus.
As with a new strain of the flu virus, your body’s natural defenses may be unable, or less able, to protect you from the new virus. In addition, the characteristics of the new virus will have to be studied and understood so that a totally new vaccine can be developed to defend against that particular virus.
How severe the new virus is depends on how it infects people and on how easily it infects people. A virus that easily infects people can spread rapidly.
What Can You Do to Prevent Viruses From Spreading?
Whether it’s an old strain of the flu, a new strain of the flu, or a completely new virus, taking these familiar steps will help decrease the spread of a virus:
- Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” twice)
- Rest and drink fluids if you become ill.
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
In the case of a new virus to which people have little to no natural defenses:
- Expand the amount of personal space between you and others.
- Avoid handshakes, hugs, and kisses, including air kisses, use an elbow bump instead.
- If you’re in a high risk group, isolate yourself from exposure as much as possible. Investigate services that will deliver groceries or prepared meals to your home, for example.
- If you develop symptoms, stay home and avoid exposing others. Wear an N95 mask if you go out.
- Use wipes that contain a bleach, not just antibacterial wipes, to disinfect surfaces.
- Do not use harsh chemicals, like bleach wipes, on electronics and touch screens.
Remember, antibiotics have no effect on viruses. Instead, use medications that will reduce your symptoms — coughing, sneezing, fever, and body aches. N95 masks are designed to prevent those who already are sick from spreading the virus, not to keep those who are healthy from catching the virus. If you feel that you have developed symptoms, for health care services Griffin, GA, call Internal Medicine of Griffin, to schedule an appointment for testing.