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National Preparedness Month: Influenza

Courtesy Story

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms

Story by PFC Maggie Gale

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by several types of viruses. The flu can cause mild to severe illness and, in severe cases, can lead to death.

As a part of the Presidential Policy Plan Directive-8: National Preparedness, a directive passed in 2011, the Combat Center is participating in September’s National Preparedness Month. During the fourth week of September, G-7, Mission Assurance, has focused on Influenza prevention.

The flu can be spread to others up to six feet away, most often when people with the illness cough, sneeze or talk. The germs can land in the noses or mouths of people nearby, and possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person may also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their face. Infected people can spread the virus to others as far ahead as 24 hours before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming ill. Children can often be contagious longer than seven days.

Flu symptoms will start one to four days after the virus enters the body. People who have the flu often feel feverish and have chills, soreness in the throat, headaches, body aches and fatigue.

To prevent becoming infected with the virus, frequently wash your hands with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Ensure to get vaccinated with the flu shot every year. Also, do not share linens, eating utensils and dishes belonging to those who are sick without washing them first.

The flu is most commonly spread in January or February, but cases have been known to occur as early as October and as late as May. The virus infects between 5 and 20 percent of the U.S. population, causing 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths per year on average.

For more information on National Preparedness Month, or on the Influenza virus, visit ready.marines.mil.

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