Today, students at Saint Louis Park High School gathered in the gym for a counseling session regarding the death of one of their fellow students, 14 year old Carly Christenson. A vigil is set for tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Westwood Lutheran Church. http://www.westwoodlutheran.org/
Christenson was the fifth person to die of the Flu this season in the Twin Cities. She was admitted to The Children's Hospital in Minneapolis on Christmas Eve, just one day after 17 year-old Max Schwolert died of Flu complications in a hospital in Saint Paul.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, (The CDC,) 5%-20% of Americans contract Seasonal Influenza, (commonly called "The Flu,") every year. Statistics gathered from the years 1976 up until 2006 estimate that about 200,000 people are hospitalized each year from the Flu, and anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people die from flu related complications. The Flu often presents the following symptoms:
Fever and or chills, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and fatigue. The Flu can often be differentiated from the common cold by its quick onset, whereas a cold tends to come on more slowly. The CDC warns that not all people will experience the Flu in the same way. For instance, while a fever is the first symptom listed, many people who have the Flu don't experience a fever. Also, while some people, including children, are likely to experience vomiting or diarrhea, adults will usually not have these symptoms. It is also important to note that the term "Stomach Flu" is a misnomer, and not a true Flu virus.
It is recommended that everyone get a Flu shot, although there are certain people for whom this is more important, as they are more likely to suffer from Flu related complications. Some of the people who fall into this category include:
Children younger than 5 years of age, adults aged 65 or older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions, such as Asthma, HIV/AIDS, neurological conditions, heart and lung disease disorders involving blood, the endocrine system, the liver or kidneys, people who are morbidly obese or those who suffer from any weakening of the immune system. It is not known why, but it has also been found that Native Americans appear to be at heightened risk for Flu related complications.
Unfortunately, some people contract the Flu virus even after getting a shot. The reason for this is that there are over 1,000 varieties of the Flu, and the shot is tailored to fight off the particular virus that is most prevalent at the time. This year, the shot is targeting influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
For more information about the Flu in Minnesota, including sites for Flu shots, see the Minnesota Department of Health website. http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/flu/index.html
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