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Host: Scott LaMar

Radio Smart Talk: Flu strikes early and often

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jan 10, 2013 8:43 AM

Radio Smart Talk for Thursday, January 10:

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Headlines about the onset of the flu season are astounding.  The mayor of Boston declared a public health emergency because some 700 people came down with the flu already this season.   So many were showing up at an Allentown hospital with flu-like symptoms that an emergency triage tent was set up.  The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported 18 flu-related deaths last week and 22 for this flu season.

The calendar hasn't reached mid-January yet.  The Centers for Disease Control says the flu season began earlier this year than it has for at least the past decade.

It's anecdotal but almost everyone you talk to has been or knows someone who has been sick.

Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease specialist with PinnacleHealth, will appear on Thursday's program to answer questions about this year's flu strain.

We'll ask Dr. Goldman about the symptoms to look for, how to treat the flu, and maybe more importantly, how to avoid becoming ill in the first place.  Other questions include how effective are flu shots and who should be getting a shot?

Listen to the program:


Dr. John Goldman from PinnacleHealth talks about how central Pennsylvanians can prevent from getting the flu this season.

Here are some flu prevention tips from the state Department of Health:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before and following food preparation, before eating and after using restrooms or changing diapers.

  • Be careful what you touch. Hands transmit germs.

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.

  • Put your used tissue in the waste basket.

  • Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing by washing with soap and water or cleaning with an alcohol-based hand cleaner.

  • Get plenty of rest, eat properly, and dress appropriately for the weather.

  • When ill, prevent the spread of germs by staying home from school or the workplace, if possible. Return to work only after being fever free for 24 hours, without the use of fever reducers.

  • During flu season, minimize time in crowded areas, such as shopping centers, and avoid contact with those at high risk for the flu, such as the elderly and those with chronic illness.

  • If over the age of 65, pregnant, or if you have a chronic illness or disease, talk with your doctor about a flu and pneumonia vaccination.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:26

    E-mail from Penny:

    "My questions are: how do I know if I've already had the flu this season? If I have had it, should I still seek a vaccine? A few weeks ago I had what I would consider a bad cold with fever and a lingering cough lasting about seven days, which is now resolved. I didn't need to seek medical treatment for it. I am relatively young and healthy otherwise."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:27

    E-mail from Dave:

    "What are the possible adverse reactions to the vaccine, and what are chances of having one of them?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:28

    E-mail from Bridget:

    "You recommended that pregnant women get the flu shot. I read that although other vaccinations in the US no longer use mercury, the flu shot still contains mercury which could be harmful to an developing fetus. Is this true?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:29

    E-mail from Deborah:

    "Can you get a prescription for Tamiflu to have in case you get the flu?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:30

    E-mail from Sarah:

    "Is it true that there is a chance of getting sick shortly after receiving the shot, although the symptoms are not as strong? This is a silly reason, but I will be traveling to the Caribbean in 2 weeks - I would like to get a shot, but do not want to feel "under the weather" during the trip! Is this an Old Wive's Tale?"

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:48

    E-mail from Kevin:

    "Excellent Presentation by Dr. Goldman! One of the best I’ve heard.

    One of the biggest barriers I have seen has been the result of the widespread use of the term “flu”—even by medical providers who should know better—to refer to almost any episodic GI or respiratory illness, when only a fraction of those incidences are actually Influenza. This practice leads to all sorts of confusion about the protectiveness and risks of the influenza vaccine, as you have already heard from several of your commenters today.

    If the medical community could collectively become more precise in its use of the word “flu” to refer only to influenza, and educate patients that other illnesses concurrently prevalent can induce “flu-like” or other episodic symptoms, that would go a long way to helping their patients understand the difference as well."

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-01-10 09:49

    E-mail from James:

    "How long does a flu shot protect for?"