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The 5 biggest misconceptions about the flu

Flu season is here again.

Yes, it’s Christmas, and the New Year is approaching, but virologists see not so much the lit fairy lights and decorated trees as the danger of flu.

Because if there’s one thing that can ruin your family’s Christmas, it’s the appearance of that unexpected guest.

Do we really know what the flu is? There are many myths surrounding it.

Here’s a quick guide, as common knowledge for some actually turns out to be wrong.

1. I have the flu

It’s more likely that you don’t exactly have the flu. Although the first cases of 2014-2015 have already been confirmed, it is likely that you have caught another type of illness – respiratory syncytial virus, coronavirus or enterovirus, which are often confused with the flu.

True flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms of the flu are more severe and include high fever, joint pain, lethargy, feeling sick.

If you have a bit of a headache and it feels off, you are more likely to have a cold.

2. I can’t avoid the flu

OK, there’s no simple way to protect yourself from the flu. If we are exposed to a hurricane-force sneeze in a crowded bus, we are very likely to catch the virus. But there are ways to minimize the risk.

Many people catch the flu not by airborne, but by touching surfaces touched by sick people – railings, catchment areas in public transport, ATMs, door locks.

You can minimize your chances of getting infected by remembering not to put your fingers in your mouth, nose or eyes while you’re out and about.

When you get home, be sure to wash your hands. So the flu virus goes down the drain instead of into your body. Carry a bottle of disinfectant gel – in cases when you are outside.

3. Is it the flu? I don’t care

Yes, obviously worse things have happened to you, but such macho attitudes can be very dangerous. While the majority of young people suffer for three days and recover, for many older people a bout of flu could mean their last Christmas.

So do yourself and others a favor and if you have the flu, stay home, drink warm drinks and wait until you are well before it goes back out into the outside world.

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Thousands of people die every year because they have a hard time fighting flu symptoms.

4. Vaccination is not an option

This is one of the biggest flu myths because the vaccination is for everyone. Not only to protect yourself, but also to prevent spreading the virus to your colleagues, companions, family.

There are three types of the flu virus: A, B and C. Since the first two are the most common, they are the ones covered by the seasonal vaccines developed each year.

Some people are particularly vulnerable to the flu – those who are older, but also pregnant women, the elderly and children, those with weakened immune systems. Especially such people are recommended to be vaccinated against influenza.

5. We can catch flu through birds

We all remember the worldwide epidemic of bird flu. In birds, it is a fundamental disease, but there is a huge difference between bird flu and human flu.

This means that the flu viruses that bring down humans are of a completely different type, so it is almost impossible to get bird flu just as it is impossible for birds to catch the human virus.

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The recent arrival of bird flu of the H5N8 strain in the UK does not pose a risk to humans as poultry consumers. So take it easy on poultry meat, it is completely safe.

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