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It’s Flu Season – Do You Know Where the Flu is?

Posted by Ashley on November 25th, 2008

If you’re anything like me, you hate flu season. You loathe those times – mostly between November and March – when you can just feel the influenza coming on. During these times, everything you do is performed in a fatigued slow motion. You start popping a daily vitamin C, a powdery-tasting Zicam tablet, and maybe one of those ugly green Echinacea capsules just to be safe. You wash your hands twice as much as you usually do (and for me, that’s a lot!). You get plenty of rest (out like a light at 10!) and hope that this run-down feeling passes. To put it plainly, if you’re anything like me, you’ll do everything short of declaring yourself under quarantine during flu season to prevent catching the flu.

I suspect that lots of people in the U.S. are like me, and like me, you’ll be happy to know that Google recently developed a handy flu virus tracking system that you can add to your arsenal of flu prevention tools. Google Flu Trends actually estimates the daily flu activity rate in your state by continuously tracking and cataloging all flu-related search data. Findings are displayed in a color-coded map that breaks down activity by month and risk level (minimal, low, moderate, high, and intense).

While documenting and reporting on flu trends is not a new practice, the time it takes to get results has always needed improvement. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been tracking influenza outbreaks for years using a large network of doctors who continuously report the percentage of their patients they treat who have influenza-like illnesses. Collecting and analyzing these results has historically taken the CDC up to 2 weeks. Google Flu Trend findings, which accurately match the CDC’s flu activity findings for the past 5 years, are automatically aggregated and posted each day. In addition to helping you plan the best time to get your flu shot, Google says the system also supports efforts to identify infectious disease “hotspots” throughout the country. Ultimately, it could help prevent a flu pandemic.

IQAir HealthPro Plus air purifierLooking for more flu prevention tools? Consider using an air sterilizer inside your home. Air sterilizers reduce the amount of airborne germs, bacteria, and allergens floating in the air – and prevent the spread of these microorganisms, which may carry certain flu strains. The IQAir HealthPro Plus air cleaner filters out 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air. This degree of particle control is one of the reasons why this unit is used frequently in many modern clean rooms and hospitals.

Verilux CleanWave Sanitizing Light WandFor true germ- and bacteria-killing power, try the Verilux VH11 Sanitizing Wand. The 22-in. wand shines nothing but UV-C germicidal light on a variety of household surfaces to kill germs, viruses, bacteria, and allergens. Flu-causing germs are eliminated in about 30 seconds or less, without spraying harmful chemical cleaners. The latter could irritate your existing allergic and respiratory disorder symptoms.

Vornado Whole Room Evaporative HumidifierTo help ease that scratchy throat feeling you get from breathing in dry, wintry air and reduce the severity of respiratory complications associated with the flu, try running an air humidifier in your home. Air flow technology giant Vornado has added 2 new humidifiers to its line-up this season. Both models – Vornado HU1-0022-06 Ultrasonic Humidifier and the Vornado HU1-0021-28 Evaporative Humidifier – employ the company’s popular Vortex Technology to evenly circulate moist, breathable air throughout an entire room.

And don’t forget to get the most important flu prevention tool of all – your flu shot!

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