Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Medicine

The Flu and Airports (fastcompany.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: The CDC says this year's flu season is on track to either rival or dethrone 2009's swine flu. 3,000 people across the U.S. have died as a result of the flu in the first 20 days of 2018, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and that number has likely risen. If you want to avoid the flu (and of course you do) the National Institute of Health says orange juice won't cut it. Instead, the best flu prevention is a vaccine, and it's not too late to get one. Pair a flu shot with frequent hand washing, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth so you don't transfer any virus from your hands, and you just might manage to avoid the flu.

The Flu and Airports

Comments Filter:
  • by cyberchondriac ( 456626 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:29PM (#56109951) Journal

    But I'd heard that this year's vaccines had mostly missed the mark.
    It'd probably be more effective this year to wash your hands often, don't shake hands (I know, it's antisocial), and keep your hands away from your face.. or my face.

    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:43PM (#56110069)

      Still even when the flue vaccine misses its mark, it still normally lessons the symptoms if you are to get the flu. It can be the difference between being out of work (feeling like crap) for a week vs being in the hospital for a week and out of work for an additional week.

      Having the flu before, I make a point to get a vaccine every year (normally in September when it first gets out) just so I can avoid as much of the pain and misery of having the flu as I can. If I get it, it may be a few days of misery vs a week.

      • Still even when the flue vaccine misses its mark, it still normally lessons the symptoms if you are to get the flu. It can be the difference between being out of work (feeling like crap) for a week vs being in the hospital for a week and out of work for an additional week.

        Anecdote time.

        My wife, daughter, and I all got the flu shot. Unfortunately my wife and daughter also have some immune deficiency issues, which makes the vaccine less effective even in good years. This year both of them got the flu and were out sick about a week and a half. I caught it (or, at a minimum, something very much like it) midway through that period - but I was only down about three days, and never got as sick as they did.

        It's certainly possible my bug was not the same one, but the timing and sympt

        • Similar story in my fully-immunized house, but I was the unlucky one. My wife and son both got sick, but barely. I got the full blown flu, but even so it was only a few days of high fever, aches and sleep, with a slight cough for a week after. It royally sucked, but was nowhere near as bad as I used to get annually before I started getting the shot.
          • Same situation with me. Wife and son got mildly sick, I got hit harder; and that's even after I got immunized a month ago. In my case, it wasn't the flu, it was the day after where I felt great, then I quickly got pneumonia leaving me to hack up yellow and green globules of crap.

            No the flu. It's always the pneumonia that strikes right after that's a killer.

        • Unfortunately my wife and daughter also have some immune deficiency issues, which makes the vaccine less effective even in good years.

          I've had both flu and pneumonia vaccines, and failed to develop antibodies to both. IVIG (antibody infusions) are the next step.

      • Well, there's that at least. Also keeping something like Cold-eeze handy (zinc lozenge) to lessen some symptoms if they manifest. Saline nasal spray and/or nettie pot can help with the sinuses and by extension, that horrible drip and sore throat.
        I certainly didn't get sick from the vaccine (some people claim they do), and so far, no colds or flu this season, but it's not over yet.

      • 1 week is the average duration. I never bothered with the flu shot. Then one year I got the flu and was miserable and bedridden for 3 weeks, including 10 days of feeling like I'd been run over by a truck (literally - like all my muscles were torn and bruised), 3 days of alternating hot and cold flashes every 10-20 min (going from kicking off the blanket and taking off your shirt, to putting it all back on and throwing on an extra blanket for more warmth). I'm never gonna go through that again if I can av
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Agent0013 ( 828350 )

        Perhaps you should read up on how the flu vaccine will make you more likely to contract other strains of the flu. The swine flu was particularly boosted by people who had gotten previous flu shots in the years previously. Not sure how that helps you avoid the flu if it is actually helping you get it instead.

        Better is the up your intake of vitamin D. If you are low on your vitamin D, as most people are, it will reduce your chances of getting the flu by 80 or 90%. It will also help against things like lupis a

        • by kqs ( 1038910 )

          Perhaps you should read up on how the flu vaccine will make you more likely to contract other strains of the flu. The swine flu was particularly boosted by people who had gotten previous flu shots in the years previously. Not sure how that helps you avoid the flu if it is actually helping you get it instead.

          Citation needed from a reputable source,

          Since the immune system is exposed to many thousands of attackers and develops defenses against most of those, it seems odd that defenses against one flu would make you more likely to get another flu than someone who had no flu defenses at all. That sounds like something that anti-vaxxers make up to convince gullible people that vaccines are bad, and some quick google searching didn't turn anything up, but I'm willing to be convinced by evidence.

      • it still normally lessons the symptoms

        "Lessens". Autocomplete is NOT your friend. Or literacy dislikes you. Whichever.

    • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:48PM (#56110119)

      Logic fail. Taking the vaccine doesn't prevent you from washing your hands, so arguing for hand-washing is not arguing against vaccine. A sensible person would do both.

      I have also heard that this year's vaccine is less effective than it should be. All medication is a trade-off between risks, side effects, and benefits, and this year the benefits are falling way short. If side effects or risks are normally something you have to think about, this is a year when you may want to think twice. But if you're blessed with the privilege of not normally having to worry about taking the vaccine, it is still, as they say, "worth a shot."

      • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:06PM (#56110279)

        It's not a trade off of risks. They have to guess what strains are likely to be the virulent ones this season (since they mutate so often). This year they guessed wrong, so only 30% of the strains going around are covered.

        Now 30% is much greater than 0%, but it's still a one-in-three shot.

        • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

          It's not a trade off of risks. They have to guess what strains are likely to be the virulent ones this season (since they mutate so often). This year they guessed wrong, so only 30% of the strains going around are covered.

          That's the usual reason for the flu shot being less effective, but this year it actually turns out that they guessed right on the variant, but the H3N2 vaccine wasn't as effective expected-- the virus cultured for the antigens apparently had slightly mutated from the one in the wild.

          • That's how this vaccine thing rolls with the Flu strains mutating out there. You take your best guess at the point it's time to start making vaccine which is months before the flu season actually starts and take your chances. If the viruses mutate too much or you guess wrong, the vaccine isn't as effective as it could be.

            But, in most cases the vaccine *does* help, even if it misses a bit, by sensitizing your immune system to a virus that is pretty close, which gets the full immune response started sooner

    • Even if the vaccine doesn't prevent this flu, it makes it much less likely that you will die of it.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      But I'd heard that this year's vaccines had mostly missed the mark.
      It'd probably be more effective this year to wash your hands often, don't shake hands (I know, it's antisocial), and keep your hands away from your face.. or my face.

      Each vaccine typically has about 3-5 strains of deactivated flu viruses (virii?) in it, and since production starts before fall, the manufacturers have to check with the CDC and others for their estimates on what strains will likely to be especially virulent. (A strain is of the

  • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:29PM (#56109953)

    Not going to work when you have the flu would also be helpful, but probably even the CDC understands that is not a reasonable recommendation.

    • by omfglearntoplay ( 1163771 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:34PM (#56110003)

      Not reasonable when your employers are greedy bastards, that is. Paid sick or better yet personal days should be the norm.

      • by mysidia ( 191772 )

        Paid sick or better yet personal days should be the norm.

        Most full-time employees have a number of hours PTO they can take; at least in the professional world, this is the case....

        • by ranton ( 36917 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:02PM (#56110235)

          Paid sick or better yet personal days should be the norm.

          Most full-time employees have a number of hours PTO they can take; at least in the professional world, this is the case....

          The problem is many employers now lump sick days and vacation together into the same pool. This causes people to not want to use PTO for sick days since it cuts into their vacation. There really is no good fix for this other than employers trusting their employees, which would allow for unlimited sick days (or at least unlimited until short term disability is more appropriate).

          • by swb ( 14022 )

            I thought the switch from split sick/vacation to pooled PTO was about the opposite incentive structure -- let people who don't get sick have "extra" vacation time.

            The last place I worked switched from sick & vacation to all PTO and while the cumulative number of days went down, (15 vacation + 6 sick to 19 PTO) you could potentially have more vacation time.

            The purported rationale was to prevent "abuse" of sick time by making it legitimately usable and give it to employees as vacation time anyway. I'm

            • by ranton ( 36917 )

              I thought the switch from split sick/vacation to pooled PTO was about the opposite incentive structure -- let people who don't get sick have "extra" vacation time.

              That was how it has been marketed, and it sounds good. It just doesn't work out that way when implemented. The reality is closer to your later comments:

              I think they *hoped* it would just end some amount of unscheduled absenteeism by discouraging people from taking unplanned days off, since they weren't "free".

              Bingo. The real reason here is to limit the total number of days off. This is deemed easier than actually identifying people who abuse sick days. But unfortunately the opposite happens, where more people actually do get sick because less people are taking time off when sick, and the company loses more productivity. On top of that people lose more vacation ti

            • Seems like a better way to prevent abuse of sick days would be to let people cash out unused sick days at the end of each year for equivalent days of pay.

              • by swb ( 14022 )

                I think companies hate that because it inflates their compensation costs -- if you have 100 employees with an average of 2 days unused sick time, now you have 200 days of extra wages to pay, probably close to a mid-level annual FTE paycheck, plus all the accounting headaches.

                I know they also hate the accounting costs of carried vacation which is why use it or lose it is quite often the policy, but it also seems to solve so many problems with sick/vacation day policies and the unexpected outcomes their weird

          • Time to move countries then?
            Perhaps to one that legislates minimum required employee rights, like separate paid leave entitlements, bereavement leave, sick leave, public holidays, days in lieu, overtime, etc.
            USA is quite well known for shitting on the little guy. The only thing that differs among states is the amount and stench of the shit.

          • The problem is many employers now lump sick days and vacation together into the same pool.

            This is illegal in most of the west.

        • There are a growing number of office jobs where a total of 2-3 weeks is the norm, and that includes vacation, personal, and sick time. I don't have one of those jobs because I can get better offers easily, but there will always people who can only get the baseline.

          Two weeks per year (so, ten paid days) is too little---especially for people with children. There should be at least 5-10 days for personal illness or caring for a close family member. Discipline or fire people for misusing that time if necessary,

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Not reasonable when your employers are greedy bastards, that is. Paid sick or better yet personal days should be the norm.

        It is in most western countries. We've long since recognised that workers aren't chattel and that making them work whilst sick not only results in bad work, but also in making the other serfs unwell.

        We've also got at least 4 weeks of personal leave and usually 2 more weeks of public holidays I've got an additional 4 days personal and 6 days paid leave whilst the company shuts down over Christmas, basically 8 weeks leave (although I can only choose when 5 of them are).

    • People could wear those face masks when they're sick, Asian-style. Then they can still go to work/school while ill without infecting others. That would require a cultural shift that Western society is just not ready for, though (You mean, I gotta keep my germs to myself? WTF is this bullshit?).

      • Or they could cover their god damn mouth / nose when they sneeze in public places, and wash their hands with soap.

        I can't believe people still can't grasp these simple concepts.

        • Water alone does just as much for removing germs as soap does.
          Soap merely makes it easy to remove shit like grease that isn't normally water soluble.

      • I don't understand why flu vaccines are promoted widely, but no mention is ever made of wearing surgical masks.

        The masks work both ways, but a vaccinated person with the flu will still spread the flu.

        • I don't understand why flu vaccines are promoted widely, but no mention is ever made of wearing surgical masks.

          The masks work both ways, but a vaccinated person with the flu will still spread the flu.

          Sure, but chances are the vaccinated person will be contagious for a much shorter time.

          The issue with masks is a cultural one. People look at you like you have the plague or something if you go around in public wearing one, I know because I've done this to avoid infecting others or catching stuff from others. You get some strange looks like "Am I going to get cancer from you or something?"

          Maybe some PSA's from the CDC that push vaccines, hygiene and masks to combat the flu are in order? I'm sure some cat

      • If you were walking down the street and saw a guy wearing a gas mask wouldn't you wonder what he knew that you didn't? That's how I'm treated when wearing a sterile surgical mask on the street here in the US. The mask is to protect everybody, but assumptions are more powerful than rational thought.

        • by Agripa ( 139780 )

          If you were walking down the street and saw a guy wearing a gas mask wouldn't you wonder what he knew that you didn't? That's how I'm treated when wearing a sterile surgical mask on the street here in the US. The mask is to protect everybody, but assumptions are more powerful than rational thought.

          I have no doubt wearing a mask in public would provide probable cause or reasonable suspicion to law enforcement. No thanks, I have already been shot enough.

      • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

        People could wear those face masks when they're sick, Asian-style. Then they can still go to work/school while ill without infecting others. That would require a cultural shift that Western society is just not ready for, though (You mean, I gotta keep my germs to myself? WTF is this bullshit?).

        I've heard that unless you have some pretty high-end face masks, they don't last that long. Certainly not a whole day. Something about the moisture from the breath reducing the effectiveness of the filter over the hours. You'll see people in Asian countries use them, but like with most home or traditional remedies they could be totally ineffective.

        • They get kindof icky after a while anyway (humidity from breathing in them) so I changed them out a few times a day while ill in Asia. No idea if the locals did the same, I'd imagine they would. They come like 10 to a pack, and unless you plan to be sick for 10 days there's no point in being stingy with them...

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        Forget that. If work policy encourages me to come in while sick, then I am going to infect as many people as possible because that is not considered a negative externality. If it was, then they would not encourage it. If work does not care, then I do not care either. Why should I have a different standard than work?

    • Or there is the lucky few of us that work from home, and don't need to regularly visit the public petri dish known as an "office", which is only slightly behind schools and airports in their ability to communicate airborne diseases.

    • but probably even the CDC understands

      Well, let's see. Trump's appointee for head of the CDC had to resign when she was caught trading in tobacco stocks. Trump's first Secretary of Health and Human Services had to resign over his use of private and military aircraft, and his current appointee is a lobbyist for Big Pharma and he's been on the job for less than two weeks.

      So basically, when it comes to fighting a serious flu outbreak, nobody's in charge, which should surprise no one.

    • but probably even the CDC understands that is not a reasonable recommendation

      Why not? Every first world country mandates paid sick leave. Sometime the USA should join the first world too.

  • by bit trollent ( 824666 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @02:33PM (#56109987) Homepage

    In most of the US there are no paid sick days for restaurant workers.

    So when you are drinking your soda and eating your sandwich, ask yourself if the sandwich maker could afford to take a sick day.

    Is America a truly modern country without universal healthcare or paid time off for illness?

    • The influenza death rate [worldlifeexpectancy.com] is lower in the U.S. than in many countries with universal health care and paid time off for illness. And the difference in the rate between it and many better countries (France, Germany, Canada) is so small as to be statistically insignificant.

      So either paid sick days just don't matter that much to the spread rate of influenza, or the health care system takes care of it just fine despite not being universal, or both.
  • Handshaking (Score:3, Informative)

    by ichthus ( 72442 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:07PM (#56110289) Homepage

    Handshaking. We MUST get rid of this stupid form of greeting. I'm what's commonly referred to as a germaphobe -- I hate touching the hand rails at Disneyland, or the TV remote in a hotel room. (EXTRA CREDIT: The sponge in the sink at work) And, just as loathsome is touching the hand of someone that I haven't just witnessed washing his or her hands.

    If we stopped shaking hands, this would go a long way toward stemming the spread of sickness. Hey, Mythbusters confirmed it. [youtube.com]

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      On the other hand, lots of us touch railings and shake people's hands regularly, and yet we don't get sick all that often really. You may actually want to look into some treatment - I know some people with germophobia and it has had a detrimental effect on their quality of life.

      • by ichthus ( 72442 )

        You may actually want to look into some treatment

        If it ever became debilitating, I would consider this. But, as you stated, many people live life germ-agnostic. I'm aware of this and, as such, am able to conscientiously suppress my germaphobic tendencies. I still shake hands, touch the gas pump handle, and push the cart at the grocery store. But, after doing these things, I have a mental... flag that's set, with the imperative that I need to wash my hands at the earliest convenience. Until that flag i

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There are a large number of viruses out there that cause flu-like symptoms that are not actually the flu. The flu vaccine will never protect you from any of these other viruses. So regardless of whether or not you get the flu vaccine it is best to avoid sick people and take other precautions such as proper sanitation.

    • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
      Yes - it's so annoying when people say they have the flu when it's just a common cold. Our 5 year old had a fever for around 36 hours then was back to normal. Likely not the flu.

      That being said, my wife is just now back on her feet after spending 5 days in bed fighting influenza a (doctor confirmed). She got a flu shot and is almost militant about washing hands.

      Of course now that she's feeling better.. I'm starting to feel a little worn down, I hope it's only a case of the Mondays.
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:11PM (#56110329) Homepage Journal

    There is no mention of airports in TFS.

    • by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Monday February 12, 2018 @03:26PM (#56110461)

      There is in the article however, and they said that the dirtiest place in the airport are the self-ticketing kiosks. But I have known this for years - especially at Christmas time people drag their runny-nosed little brats onto airplanes, and due to the holidays people can't or won't cancel or postpone. I have even seen adults with runny noses going through the airports that time of year, so it isn't just the kids.

      So the key is to use "best practices" going through airports. Wash your hands often, especially after touching things, use the hand-sanitizing stations if they are available, and make sure to avoid touching your face and especially rubbing your eyes.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Face masks are actually great for this. It's debatable how much protection they give against airborne viruses, but they are pretty good at stopping you from touching your face.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Oh, I'm sure it's in TFA. However, you would *THINK* that TFS would have some relevance to the *HEADLINE*

      • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

        But I have known this for years - especially at Christmas time people drag their runny-nosed little brats onto airplanes, and due to the holidays people can't or won't cancel or postpone. I have even seen adults with runny noses going through the airports that time of year, so it isn't just the kids.

        It's almost as if people will not cancel longstanding travel plans for your comfort or convenience.

        I suggest that you avoid traveling at that time if it so concerns you.

  • I got the flu soon after a medical test at a doctor's office building. This is not a surprise as sick people were coming and going all day long. What surprised me after the fact was the lack of basic measures to stop the spread of disease at a medical facility.

    The local Walmart has a plastic tub with wet wipes near the grocery baskets. This seems like common sense to reduce the chance of spreading germs especially in places where lots of people are congregating. But I don't see something similar at the entr

  • How does getting a flu shot with a protein shell sequence of X ( which is how your bodies immune system knows what it is ) do anything for a mutated strain that has a shell sequence of Y ?

    It's like an anti-virus program looking for a checksum of X ( Holy Shit! A virus ! SMASH ) while it lets the mutated version with a checksum of Y right in the door with a VIP pass.

    Your body doesn't even KNOW it's a problem until it's kicking your ass.

    Now if you get a Strain X shot today and Strain X happens to be the flav

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      Virus signatures, both physical and virtual, are not just single values. Your shot is for WXYZ; if you run into WXAB you'll still get a bit of response, and hence a bit of head start on fixing it. (4 is probably still not the right number of letters, but you get the idea.)

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Medical experts look at what they think will be a problem for the year.
      Different strains are selected for a nations anti-virus program depending on a nations medical skill and what they want to pay for that year e.g. the trivalent.
      For a given heath budget per person nations have to consider spending on the best anti-virus program they think they can pay for and will give good cover that year.
      i.e. is the quadrivalent now cost-effective given the numbers of people needing hospitalization.

I bet the human brain is a kludge. -- Marvin Minsky

Working...