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Q: Is it true that not everyone gets a fever?
A: Yes. There are no good estimates although the CDC thinks it's not too common.
Q: Someone's sick in my office. How long until I know if I caught it?
A: Up to a week.
Q: Do I have an obligation to notify my friends or employer if I or my child get sick?
A: "Of course you tell your friends," especially if you've been around someone who's at high risk, says Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University. Treat flu like any other easy-to-spread illness. Families normally tell the school and playmates when a child gets strep throat, for example. Employers must weigh privacy requirements but certainly can advise that flu has hit the office.
Q: Can you catch flu from the flu shot? You hear people say," I was sick the day after the shot!"
A: No, it's biologically impossible for a flu shot to give you influenza; it's made with a dead virus. But the flu shot won't prevent a cold or other flu-like viruses, causing some confusion.
Q: But what if I hate shots?
A: There's FluMist, the squirt-in-your nose vaccine, available for people ages 2 to 49.
Q: What if I have asthma?
A: Any flu can worsen asthma attacks, warns CDC asthma specialist Dr. David Callahan. Children may be prescribed Tamiflu at the first symptoms, so call your doctor. Keep a good supply of regular asthma medicines, including "rescue" inhalers for asthma attacks, on hand.
Q: What if I have diabetes?
A: Flu can increase a diabetic's blood sugar, so test frequently and call your doctor about adjusting insulin or other medications, said CDC diabetes specialist Dr. Ann Albright. Keep a two-week supply of regular medication. Stay hydrated. And check your ketone levels.
Q: My child was told to bring hand sanitizer to school and use it regularly. Is there any concern with that?
A: Nope, says the CDC. It shouldn't be more drying to skin than soap. Just keep the whole bottle away from toddlers who might try to swallow it.
Q: Why isn't everybody tested?
A: Rapid tests just tell if you have flu, not which strain, and aren't always accurate. More sophisticated testing takes too long to be practical. The CDC does enough testing to tell what strains are circulating where but for the average person it doesn't matter -- flu's flu.
On the Net:
Flu information: http://www.flu.gov/
Lauran Neergaard covers health and medical issues for The Associated Press in Washington.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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