While the World Focuses on Coronavirus, Let’s Not Forget the Flu Virus

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by Ray Burow |

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News of the coronavirus is spreading across the world like, well, a virus. In the U.S., people are bombarded with warnings about the dangers of the disease, which has claimed more than 100 lives in China. Confirmed cases have reached 6,000 as of Wednesday. The numbers could go higher.

News about a strange virus in a faraway country would not have been as disconcerting a few decades ago. But the world has become a much smaller place and the threat is real. The United States is screening for the coronavirus at its borders and has expanded screenings from five international airports to 20. And in an effort to batten down the hatches, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is discouraging travel to China.

Balancing concern

As of earlier this week, the CDC had confirmed five cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. That is cause for concern, but it is important that we put the news in perspective.

Compare the coronavirus reports to the numbers relating to the flu. So far this season, the CDC reports that 15 million people have contracted the flu. Of those, 140,000 have been hospitalized and 8,200 have died.

Balancing fear

Fear of contracting the coronavirus seems to be spreading in the U.S., perhaps because there’s not a definitive treatment. There isn’t a vaccine and there’s no cure. Most patients will get better, but it’s a waiting game.

In a country of over 329 million people, only five have contracted the coronavirus. But it is feared more than the influenza virus that kills thousands every year. A vaccine offers some protection from the flu, but fewer than half of American adults are expected to get the shot this season. Yet we fret over not having a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus.

We must be realistic. A caregiver is more likely to come in contact with someone who has the flu than to be exposed to the coronavirus.

Take control

It is imperative that carers and those they care for receive the flu vaccine. It could be the difference between life and death.

Flu season usually peaks in January or February and extends to May. This year, the season is expected to last even longer. It’s not too late to be vaccinated.

We can’t control how the coronavirus advances in the U.S. or how it will affect caregivers and Alzheimer’s patients. We can only take action on what is controllable.

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Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.

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