Monthly Archives: March 2021

Herpes and Pregnancy

Herpes, both oral and genital, are highly communicable diseases caused by the two strains of the Herpes Simplex Virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Genital herpes is transmitted sexually and is rarely transmitted from a pregnant mother to her unborn child, but could prove fatal for the unborn infant if it is transmitted.

It is possible, though unlikely that someone can transmit the virus through the placenta during pregnancy. If this happens, chances of the baby being born with a defect or a miscarriage increase.

The   transmission  also depends upon the stage of pregnancy in which the primary episode of herpes sets in. If the women had primary genital herpes during the first trimester, then there are less chances of the baby being infected. This is because it usually takes the body three to four weeks to buildup antibodies against the virus.

So if herpes happens at the onset of pregnancy, the body gets enough time to build up the immune system. As a result, these antibodies are also passed onto the baby. Generally, mothers can have a normal vaginal delivery.

But this is not so if the woman gets the infection in the second or third trimester of pregnancy. If the blood tests confirm that the women has never had herpes before the experts will recommend a caesarian delivery. This is because at these stages, the body does not get enough time to build up the immune system and the chances of  transmission  are extremely high.

It is easier to prevent herpes than it is to cure it. The highest risk to an infant comes from an infected mother who contracts HSV-1 or 2 during pregnancy and the best way to avoid this is by preventing this situation. Since Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, steps should be taken to ensure that you don’t transmit herpes during this crucial time.

How to Conduct a Viral Marketing Campaign?

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘the news spread like fire?’ Well, you must have, since this is a very common phrase in English language, and one often uses it to describe the very nature of man that inherently makes him a very capable messenger.

What is meant by this theory is that man, no matter how primitive or civilized, will always stick to his basic games in this world. He would always keep not ‘an’ but both eyes out to see what others are doing. Every man has a nose, which is too long so that he knows not what to do with it, and eventually he sticks it into other people’s business. And under this very nose is his mouth. And thus he can babble and spread around what he learns.

But if you had always cursed people like your next-door-neighbors who made it a habitual routine to crane up their neck and babble all over about your life, it is time to change your approach a little bit. People like your neighbors are actually the ones who can help you to make your business grow!

How, you ask? Well, viral marketing strategy is the answer. This way, you can post all your content in the sites and provide you link in there as well so that the online visitors can follow you to the table conference table where you can cement your deals. But for that, you have to make sure that the customers make a bee for your amber-thick, caramelized and lip smacking opportunities. For this, you will need to use the most effective strategies. Here are some that you can use:

o The first hit mantra would be ‘free’. Relax, we are not talking about a massive drawback in bank balance. You do not have to sell off everything you own to give away stuff for free. After all, we have not opened up a charity here, have we? Just let some software, games, ebooks, email account services or screen savers be available for free. This will hardly affect you, and the return will be high. People love to get things for free. When they see that you are offering them things at no cost, they will rely on you. And this will establish a connection between you and your customers which will eventually pay off to your advantage.

o The second mantra is to be creative. No, you do not have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to pull this one off. You just have to keep everything simple. Provide all the information, keep your article compact and short so that it is easy to remember. The transmission should not be corrupted. Make the message as comprehensive and attractive as you can. For example: “Check out our new free ebooks. Turn the pages…and pay nothing…all at name of yoursite (dot)com.

o No matter whatever your web posts are, be it mail, blogs or articles, make sure that the transmission is very easy and uncomplicated. Use all the technical support that you can to make sure that your logistics can survive. You must make all the effort to convey the image and purpose of your website properly and satisfactorily.

o Another way to get famous is by getting famous. In order to assure that people read your web content, you have to write and post your work anywhere and where ever in the net world. If you write articles for other sites or publications, make sure that you slip in the name of your site there as well.

This way, yow will be able to advertise for your site and this will enhance your exposure. The key mantra to success in business enterprise is a grand exposure. You have to expose yourself to your customers, and offer them the information that they would need to rely on you. This way, you will be able to build a deeper bond with them, and this will create a positive buzz about your work. And soon more deals will zoom into your workplace!

The Avian Plight

In 1997, the world’s attention was caught by an alarming passage of Avian influenza from birds to humans in Hongkong. All chickens and ducks were killed upon the order of the Hongkong government to contain the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus.

Avian influenza or more commonly called as bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. All birds naturally have these influenza viruses in their bodies. Wild birds have these viruses in their intestines but their bodies do not get infected or damaged by them. When passed on domesticated birds, avian influenza can cause sickness and death. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are mostly hit by the   transmission  of avian flu among birds. Infected domesticated birds can pass on the virus to humans when they are eaten or consumed. *Migratory birds* infected with avian flu also become agents of viruses’ transfer from one place to another.

H5N1 carrier birds pass on the virus to other birds through their saliva, nasal excretions, and feces. Birds get infected when they come in contact with these contaminated excretions even by just staying on a surface or ground where virus carriers have stayed. Cages, dirts, water, feeds, infected waterfowl or other poultries that have been exposed to the virus are the common sources of infection among domesticated birds.

Two forms of bird flu exist among domesticated poultries infected with avian influenza viruses. The low pathogenic form is almost invisible and undetected for it causes only very mild symptoms that can be mistaken as non-avian flu effects. Manifestations of low pathogenic avian flu infection include low egg production or ruffled feathers. The second form of avian flu is the high pathogenic avian flu disease. This form leads to multiple organ failures and damages among infected birds. About 90 to 100 percent of birds infected with this form die within two days upon contamination. The spread of this form of avian flu is more rapid among birds in flocks.

Albeit basically a matter among birds, humans are also susceptible to bird flu or avian flu infection. The first known cases of humans getting infected with bird flu happened in Hongkong in 1997. 18 people were recorded to have acquired respiratory illnesses after having contacted infected surfaces from poultry farms, the infection claimed six lives.

The virus’ passage to humans that happened in Hongkong caused a global alarm. Health institutions worldwide raised concerns that the avian flu might be as damaging as the pandemic of flu that claimed about 20 million lives back in 1918. Reasonable enough, the fear and alarm are worth noting. What is essentially fearful is the idea that humans can be infected and actually die from a virus that is basically existing among birds only. The premise the Hongkong incident set is that the virus is mutating into something deadly for humans.

As of 2005, worldwide coordinated statistics recorded a number of 130 people having been infected of avian flu of which 67 have already died. In recent years, cases of human infection have been high in Asian countries. The World Health Organization believes that Asia is at higher risks since people live in close distance with domesticated birds like chicken and ducks. Animal domestication and poultry raising are common among many Asian countries who are agricultural by nature. What worries many is the common fact that humans have little or even a lack of immunity to the virus known to be infecting only (until the 1997 Hongkong incident) the birds.

An even higher cause of alarm has been found in recent studies on the H5N1 virus. Recent researches have shown that H5N1 strains have become more deadly among chickens and mice. This mutation is also found to be making cats or feline susceptible to the infection. H5N1 is also found to be resistant to some of the drugs used to treat flu (such as amantadine). New strains of the virus are also said to be possibly emerging especially in Asian countries.

What is now being focused on by scientists and health experts around the world is the prevention of human-to-human  transmission  which is believed to be the possible case that happened in Thailand in 2004. If it becomes widespread, human-to-human  transmission  is believed to be harder to contain that bird-to-human  transmission . Experts say that the virus’ continual change will make it hard for the human body to naturally develop immunity against the infection. The H5N1 virus is found to be changing over time through the changes happening in their structure called antigenic drift and antigenic shift. This continual change of the virus disables the immune system to respond accordingly whenever the flu virus enters the body. The only possible solution seen by experts is for infection-prone people to have a yearly immunization with up-to-date anti avian virus strains. But the big problem is, until now there is no medical treatment available to combat the H5N1 virus, making the yearly immunization update a far-fetched option.

What Are Examples of Gourmet Foods?

The definition of gourmet food is food that a connoisseur would enjoy – a gourmet. This means that even food prepared with every day ingredients could be considered gourmet food if it is prepared with loving care by a chef who knows how to cook very well. For example, my husband cooks a chicken jal frezi which is simply superb, so can be classes as a gourmet dish. If I cook the same dish it can’t be classed as gourmet food as I am not very good at making this particular dish- I don’t have the patience it needs to make it to perfection. If you can take ordinary ingredients, say peas, carrots, potatoes and lamb and cook them in a way which makes the dish superb, then this is an example of gourmet food.

If you think about individual items that are categorized as gourmet food then Beluga caviar would be a contender for the number one slot. Beluga is a type of sturgeon which lives in the Caspian Sea where it is caught by Russian and Iranian fishermen for its eggs (unfertilized) as caviar is raw fish roe (eggs). If you are a true gourmet, then you will know that real black Beluga caviar can only be eaten with a spoon which is not made of metal as metal reacts with the roe and it doesn’t taste as good if this happens. It is eaten with mother-of-pearl, bone or tortoise shell spoons (these are now illegal so you have to find antique ones). Part of the mystique and caché of caviar is the rituals that surround the eating of it.

Wild smoked salmon is also considered a gourmet item and this taste very different to the ubiquitous smoked salmon found in packaged slivers on supermarket shelves. Oysters (raw) would also be categorized as a gourmet item. These seafood items are rich in vitamins and minerals and are very good for our health, and I often wonder if they became so highly valued because of their nutritional content as the peasants of Europe just couldn’t afford them.

Peasants could however find truffles, another highly prized item, in forests if they knew which trees to find them under. Black truffles are the best (so it is said) but white ones have a lot going for them too. In Italy in delicatessens you can buy a few slivers of truffle to go in a dish, which makes them less expensive that buying a whole truffle. They can be added to a dish to make it an extra special one as you don’t need to use very much of a truffle for it to impart its unique flavour to a dish. They are very good added to rice which is cooked in champagne (a truly gourmet risotto).

Cheeses which have been lovingly made from ewe’s and goat’s milk by small dairy farmers are also highly prized gourmet items, and you can, increasingly, find these online. Brie would not be classed as a gourmet item unless it is ripe and gooey and made by the French cheese makers. The type so often found on supermarket shelves is not a gourmet cheese.

Chanterelle mushrooms can be gathered in the woods as long as you know what you are looking for. These are certainly gourmet mushrooms with their meaty flavour and beautiful golden-yellow colour. They grow under (not on) trees and have very distinctive trumpet-shaped tops. Fresh porcini and morel mushrooms are also considered gourmet food items.

You don’t have to pay the Earth for a gourmet dish. All you have to do is have the patience and the understanding of the nature and quality of your ingredients to produce your own gourmet food. (Although Beluga caviar is wonderful!)

Transmission Repair or Replacement

In order to be a responsible and reliable vehicle owner, it is necessary to have occasional maintenance done. To keep things running their best and lasting as long as possible, you must get occasional inspections and improvements from someone who knows what they are doing. This means more than opening the hood and checking fluids with a dipstick or just simply looking at it.

A tune-up means that a licensed and qualified mechanic gets under the hood and under the car and looks to see what is happening with all of the systems and components of the automobile. Sometimes, the solution can be something simple like  transmission  repair, but sometimes, it will mean replacement of the whole shifting system. If that is the case, there are a few things you need to understand in order to make sure you that do not get taken for a ride with unnecessary work being done.

If the vehicle has a clutch and a stick shift, it is referred to as a manual system because to go from one gear to another, the driver must physically shift the gears. An automatic system is just that, it requires no human input and transitions on its own.  Transmission  repair and replacement on a manual system is much more straightforward than with an automatic system, but that does not mean it is any less important.

Now that computers can do so much, it is not surprising to learn that even  transmission  repair is not left to the opportunity for human error. Instead, diagnostics are performed with computerized gauges. These take electrical signals from the car to communicate codes that relate to specific issues. This allows the problem to be assessed without having to open everything up and physically examine what is happening.

If the problem that is discovered is too extensive or the cost or  transmission  repair is higher than the cost of replacement, it may be necessary to purchase a whole new system. This can be either brand-new or what they call rebuilt. In most instances, unless you must really save money, go with something new to ensure that you are not simply purchasing someone else’s problems and installing them in your car.

 Transmission  repair is the preferred choice over replacement. It is far less expensive and takes very little time. The fact of that matter is that sometimes the issues that a car has can exceed the skills of a mechanic. That is when it is important to bite the bullet and fork over the cash for something new that will continue to work for years to come.

In-Dependence – Some Thoughts on Meta Relationships

You are not independent. You are “in-dependence.” Independence is an illusion; it does not exist, anywhere. As an individual, as a society, as a nation, we like to view ourselves are independent. Especially in the United States which was founded on the principle of independence. But, think about it, what are you not dependent upon? Who are you not dependent upon? Dependence is not a bad thing; it has earned a bad rap due to issues of “co-dependence” which refers to a dysfunctional relationship between two or more people. We like to think of independence as freedom. But, freedom is a mental concept that has become distorted to mean no responsibilities, which is a fallacy. Freedom has more to do with our capacity to make choices and decisions for which there are consequences to which we are bound. The natural world, of which we are a part, is a complex web of dependence. We use our freedom to make choices and decisions within the confines of our dependence upon the natural world, which does include Let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we are integrally dependent upon the natural world and other people.

If we consider some of our basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, we readily see that without the soil, the rain, the sun and a conducive atmosphere, we would have no food. And, you will certainly agree that we are dependent upon food! Shelter too is based on utilizing natural resources: wood mainly, which comes from trees, which grows in soil, which needs sunlight and rain…and a conducive atmosphere. Clothing comes from natural fibers such as cotton and silk. Or, it is made from synthetic materials which are petroleum based and again part of the natural world’s resources.

One of our more basic needs is physical safety, security and protection. These needs too are dependent upon the resources of our natural environment. Whether it is a fortress built of stone, a spear of wood, a sword of metal, a gun, a cannon, a bomb….they are all built from materials outside of our individual existence, meaning we cannot simply materialize these things from within ourselves. We can imagine tools such as these, and so many others, from within ourselves…but, we cannot materialize them without the aid of natural resources. It has been suggested that “home sapien”, the knowing animal, ought to be renamed “homo faber” the fabricating animal. All of the tools and technology which surrounds us today is a fabrication utilizing the materials available to us…and without which, we would have nothing. We are dependent!

Higher needs have to do with social interaction…belongingness and connection to others. The complex division of labor in society requires that we interact with others; systems of exchange are devised of which money is only one. We are not so much dependent upon money as we are dependent upon exchange. We could not exist in society alone as a solitary individual. We are dependent upon others, and they upon us. The complexity of our dependence can be mind boggling. Just having food to buy at the market, or gas to buy for the car, involves a vast array of people doing varying different jobs. As you sit at your computer reading this article, you are reaping the benefits of your dependence upon a system of manufacturing, production and distribution of goods that dwarfs individual efforts. We are dependent upon the collective activities of society. And, in today’s world of globalization, we are fast becoming aware of our dependence upon the global marketplace, of which we are all a part.

Beyond our needs for belonging and connection with others, we have needs for knowledge. And, here again, we are dependent upon others…specifically, the mind of others, the mind of humanity, if you will. In that regard, we are dependent upon our ancestors, our history…our collective history. Knowledge grows, expands and becomes increasingly complex. We become dependent upon systems of data as well as the storage and   transmission  of that data. No one person can do this alone. And, in fact, any one person, you for example, is really composed of millions of component parts all intricately connected and dependent upon each other. The cells and organs of the body, the nervous system and it’s subsidiary systems of circulation, respiration, digestion, elimination, immunity….Where is there any independence?

We need a Declaration of Dependence. We need an awareness of systems and how they interact for it is within systems that we exist and it is within systems where dependence is an absolutely necessary functionality. We need a recognition and acknowledgment of Complexity. Complexity Theory states that “Complex Systems is a new approach to science that studies how relationships between parts give rise to the collective behaviors of a system and how the system interacts and forms relationships with its environment.” (Wikipedia).

As an individual, we interact within systems; and the way we do that is through communication. Communication is a means of relationship and exchange, it is a means of understanding and knowledge. In a system of dependence, communication is critically important for without accurate and effective communication we would not be able to function. Our body is a striking example of complex communication in action. Just the mere act of walking requires sophisticated communication between cells, nerves, ligaments and muscles ranging from the tips of our toes to our eyes. Without that communication, we would easily and quickly fumble. Communication is THE critical ingredient in healthy dependence.

So, the next time you hear somebody expounding their independence, think about the complex systems upon which they are dependent to even vocalize their illusory perception and belief of their own independence. In fact, when you hear yourself falling into this trap…catch yourself and recall the truth: we are all in-dependence.

How to Program a Siemens S7-300 Programmable Logic Controller

Do you have a Siemens S7-300 Programmable Logic Controller that you are not familiar with but you need to program it NOW! Following is a quick set of instructions I have put together to help you get started programming a Siemens S7-300 PLC.

After loading the programming software and connecting a Siemens MPI cable between your programming computer and the PLC, open SIMATIC Manager by clicking the icon on the desktop. The STEP 7 Wizard: “New Project” window will open. It is easier to use the Wizard to setup communications with your PLC, but I chose to take the scenic route. I figured I would learn more this way. So, close the STEP 7 Wizard window by clicking Cancel. If there are any other windows or projects open, close them. We want to start with a totally new program.

Create a new project by clicking the new project button on the toolbar in the upper left corner of your screen.

The New Project window opens. Here you will see any existing programs located on your computer. Near the bottom of the window, you will see the Name: input form. Type whatever you want to name your new project and click OK.

A new window will open showing the name of your project at the top. You will also see your project in the window on the left hand side of the screen at the top. Right click your project and choose “Insert New Object”. Choose the device you will be programming. We will be using the SIMATIC 300 Station so choose that selection.

You will now see SIMATIC 300 appear in the right window of your screen. It should be highlighted blue. Click anywhere in the window to make the blue go away. Double click SIMATIC 300 and it will move to the left window and “Hardware” will appear in the right window.

Double click “Hardware” and two (maybe three) new windows will open. On the left will be SIMATIC 300 – (the name of your project). The window on the right will be the catalog of parts.

Look in the right window, the parts catalog, and click the plus sign beside SIMATIC 300.

Click the plus sign beside RACK – 300. Click and drag the Rail onto the left window. You will now see the Slots window appear. This is where we will place our PLC components.

We will first choose our CPU. Looking at the parts catalog, in the SIMATIC 300 tree, choose the CPU that you are using. We are using the CPU – 300 so click the plus sign beside that choice.

Now look at the front top left of your PLC. This is where you will find the PLC model. I will use CPU313C-2 DP as an example since this is the model PLC that I use.

Find this CPU in your parts catalog and click the plus sign. You will now see some part numbers.

Look back at your PLC. Locate the door covering the MPI port. This will be the bottom left side of the PLC. At the bottom of the door you will find the part number. The part number for the PLC I am using as an example is 313-6CF03-0AB0.

Find this part number in the parts catalog. You will notice this is another folder. Open it and you will see V2.0 and V2.6. Look back at the PLC, open the door covering the MPI port, and right above the MPI port you will see V2.6.3.

Go back to the parts catalog and click V2.6. Notice how a slot in the left hand window will highlight green. I believe it will be slot #2. (Slot #1 is reserved for power supplies.) This is where you will drag and drop your CPU. (Notice the software will not let you put the CPU in any other slot but slot #2.)

When you release the mouse button over slot #2, a new window will open, “Properties – PROFIBUS interface”. Click new, a new window opens, click Ok, and then click OK again. We are not setting up a network at this time.

You will now see your CPU and associated hardware listed.

Double click in the Slot that list your DI16/DO16 (Digital Input/Digital Output).

A window with three tabs will open. The first tab will be General, the second tab will be Addresses and the third tab will be Inputs.

Open the tab “Addresses”. We need to change the default addresses. Do this by unchecking the System Default button and changing 124 (or whatever address you have) to 0. Do this for both the Inputs and Outputs.

We now need to change the Node Address. Go back to the window where you double clicked DI16/DO16 and double click in Slot 2, the CPU 313-2DP slot.

The Properties – CPU 313C-2DP window will open.

Look down the window a little over half way and find the Interface area and click on Properties. Another window, “Properties – MPI interface CPU 313-2DP” will open.

Change the address to meet your specific criteria. I know that my laptop, which I am using to program my PLC, is always addressed as 1 and my target PLC is usually addressed as 2. You will probably be the same.

Now click MPI(1) and click OK. Click OK again to close the Properties window.

Save and Compile by clicking the icon located on the left of the toolbar.

Download the hardware configuration to the PLC by clicking the download icon located on the toolbar.

A window titled “Select Target Module” should open. Click OK.

Another window titled “Select Node Address” will open. You should see listed your node address for the PLC you are working with as you configured it in a previous step. If not, click view and click on whatever node address appears and click OK.

Switch back to SIMATIC manager (by clicking the tab on the taskbar).

Click on Options. Choose Set PG/PC Interface. Choose PC Adapter (Auto).

Click Properties. A new window will open, displaying either Automatic Bus Profile Detection or Local Connection. Click Local Connection and choose USB. Now choose Automatic Bus Profile Detection and change the address to 30. You can check your connection now by clicking Start Network Detection. If a new window opens displaying Network Type = MPI, Transmission Rate = 187.5kbps, you have established communications with your S7-300. Click Close. Click OK. Click OK.

It is now time to start programming. Looking at the SIMATIC Manager window, click the plus sign located beside SIMATIC 300(1), click the plus sign beside CPU 313C-2DP, click the plus sign beside S7 Program(1). Now click on Blocks and you will see System data and OB1 appear in the right window on your screen.

Double click on OB1 and a new window will open named Properties – Organization Block

Here you can choose how you want to program, in LAD (ladder), STL (statement list), or FBD (function block diagram). Choose which you want to use and click OK.

Double click OB1 again and the LAD/STL/FBD programming window will open.

You can now start programming.

I have these same instructions with pictures on my website at http://www.saturdayafternoonhobbies.com

Flu Prevention and the Gym Member

Health officials’ warning this month of a potentially harsh flu season should be a red flag to avid aerobic-bunnies and gym-jocks alike. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warn that the flu is transmitted when flu virus in the air is inhaled after an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. Transmission also occurs when a person touches a surface that has flu virus on it and then touches his or her nose or mouth. Those familiar with the typical health club milieu, then, can easily liken a workout in the gym to sitting in a veritable Petry dish…

Heavy-breathing members on closely-placed cardiovascular machines and in crowded group fitness classes, hundreds of kinds of shared equipment from dumbbells and weight plates to public restrooms and the corner water fountain provide countless opportunities for contact with the flu virus. So, short of ditching our fitness goals until mid-Spring, it would do us well to learn more about the flu, it’s prevention, and what we can do about it.

What is the flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus. It attacks the respiratory tract in humans (nose, throat, and lungs). The flu is different from a cold; it usually comes on suddenly and may include these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness (can be extreme)
  • Dry cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Nasal congestion
  • Body aches

About 10% to 20% of U.S. residents will get the flu each year. Among these persons infected, an average of 36,000 will die, and 114,000 will be hospitalized. Although the CDC claims it is not possible to accurately predict the severity of the flu season, this year’s early incidence of Type A flu strain is historically associated with a more severe flu season, including higher numbers of related hospitalizations and deaths. To make the outlook more grim, an epidemiological assessment by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) already reports “widespread” influenza activity in over 10 U.S. states.

Who is at risk?

Although anyone can get the flu, including individuals who are healthy, there are various groups who are at higher risk for complications. These high risk groups include:

  • persons aged > 50 years;
  • residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that house persons of any age who have long-term illnesses;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who have chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma;
  • adults and children > 6 months of age who need regular medical care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (like diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system (including immune system problems caused by medicine or by infection with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);
  • children and teenagers (aged 6 months to 18 years) who are on long-term aspirin therapy and therefore could develop Reye Syndrome after the flu; and
  • women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

How to Prevent Getting the Flu

Health officials are encouraging people, particularly those in high-risk groups to obtain a flu shot. The CDC states that an annual flu shot is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get the flu.

The best time to get a flu shot is from October through November, although you can still benefit from getting the vaccine after November, even if the flu is present in your community. Be aware that it takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to provide protection.

Obtaining the vaccine does not guarantee a flu-free season, however. Influenza viruses are constantly changing, and vaccine effectiveness depends on the match between vaccine strains and circulating viruses and the age and health status of the person getting the shot. Although the strain in this year’s flu vaccine is different from the circulating strain, the CDC states that studies indicate that the vaccine should provide some cross-protection against the circulating A strain.

Some people resist getting the flu shot because of the belief that they will get severe side effects, or even the flu itself, from the vaccine. The viruses in the vaccine are inactivated, so you cannot get the flu from a flu shot. Certain side effects are possible, such as soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fever (low grade), and aches.

Chances that the shot will cause serious harm, or death, is very small and allergic reactions to the vaccine, though possible, are rare, states the CDC. Most people who get the vaccine have no serious problems with it. However, the following groups should not get a flu shot before talking with their doctor:

  • People with an allergy to hens’ eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past.
  • People who have developed Guillian-Barre Syndrome in the 6 weeks following a flu shot.

Since obtaining vaccination doesn’t necessarily guarantee immunity against the flu, it is wise to add common sense to our prevention efforts while we are busy pumping iron at the health club. Old fashioned hand-hygiene can go a long way in helping to prevent flu transmission. Although you don’t want to spend your entire workout running to the restroom to wash your hands after every set, it’s certainly advisable to make sure your hands are clean before and after the workout. Refrain from touching your nose and mouth during the workout to avoid obtaining the virus. Use of hand-antiseptics which include alcohol can also help to prevent transmission of the flu virus.

What to do if you get the flu

So what if you obtain a flu shot, practice stellar hand-hygiene and manage to contract the flu anyway? Since it is impossible to tell if you have the flu based on symptoms alone, visit your doctor. Tests can be performed in the first few days of the illness to determine the diagnosis. Since influenza is caused by a virus, antibiotics won’t work to cure it. You need to rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid using alcohol and tobacco, and possibly take medication to relieve symptoms.

The CDC warns never to give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever, without speaking to your doctor. Doing so can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye syndrome.

By all accounts, we may be in store for a particularly harsh flu season this year. Take precaution to reduce the likelihood of getting the flu, particularly if you are an avid gym-goer. Preventative measures may not only help to avoid the flu, but also interrupting hard earned progress on your fitness goals.

For more information about the flu, it’s transmission, prevention and treatment, check out the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/