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What's Truth and Fiction in Influenza Epidemic? Ask a Patch Pro

Get answers from a medical doctor, a specialist in traditional Chinese medicine, and two public health professionals.

The numbers behind this winter's influenza epidemic can look really scary.

It's sickened thousands and killed at least 27 in Minnesota alone, including a 14-year old St. Louis Park high schooler who was first hospitalized on Christmas Day. To top it off, the flu strains being passed around this year are spreading even further and faster than in most years. All together, it can make you worry that the next person to sneeze on you at the grocery store could give you the bug.

It's the kind of worry that leaves you asking questions. How contagious is influenza? What can you do to steel yourself against the virus? How does a flu shot or an immune-boosting substance even work?

To answer all your queries, Patch has asked a team of experts to weigh in:

  • Dr. Jane Kilian, a general practicioner at Roseville's Entira Family Clinic
  • Michael Egan, a specialist in traditional Chinese medicine and owner of Performance Acupuncture in Minneapolis
  • Christine Austin-Roehler, M.S., an Emergency Preparedness and Health Promotion Coordinator for Wright County Public Health. She is the agency Pubic Information Officer for public health emergencies and has worked with public health for more than 20 years.
  • Catherine Main, a public health nurse for Wright County Human Services Public Health Department. Her primary role is disease prevention and control, currently focusing on prevention and control of influenza, tuberculosis and pertussis (whooping cough).

They will be on hand this week to share their expertise, so ask away!

(Note: The experts may not weigh in until late Tuesday morning. Post your questions and they will get to them as soon as they can.)

Jane Kilian January 16, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Health department officials are saying that the vaccine against influenza is about 60% effective in protecting people from influenza. However, it is still the best protection against the virus. So we are recommending that people who have not been vaccinated do so as soon as possible.
Joshua January 16, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Markus, are you seriously using an infomercial website as a source for your claims? Jeez man, you need to adjust your tinfoil hat.
Joshua January 16, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Actually, the CDC's data indicates that about 77% people are testing positive for type A (H3) influenza, which is what's in the vaccine. That's not a bad match. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
Erin H January 18, 2013 at 05:16 PM
Almost 3 weeks ago, I had a headache, sore throat, dry cough and low grade fever. I was told it was bacterial and was given antibiotics. Now I've got the exact same symptoms again. How do I know if I have the flu or cold or something else?

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