Coronavirus vs the Flu: How do They Compare?
There has been a considerable amount of news recently concerning the novel coronavirus. The deadly outbreak in China has killed hundreds of people and made many thousands sick. The novel coronavirus that causes the disease has been known provisionally as 2019-nCoV, while the disease caused by the virus officially has a name Covid-19. In the US, a few people who have come back from China have been identified as carrying the illness. With the media in a frenzy over the coronavirus, it overshadows what is a larger and more deadly threat, influenza or the common flu.
How Dangerous is the Flu?
Every year, about 15 million Americans catch the flu. Of that number, around 8,000 die every year from some form of influenza. Around the world, about 650,000 die from the flu which makes it one of the deadliest types of illness that can be for the most part avoided. But because influenza has been a part of worldwide culture for so long, it fails to garner the same attention or response from the general public.
The novel coronavirus on the other hand is seen as the more pressing threat because it is so new. This particular strain seems quite virulent, but in terms of history it is fairly small compared to other epidemics at least at this time. When you consider the tens of millions that died from a strain of the bird flu after the First World War, the coronavirus has yet to be anywhere near that threat.
The dangers that surround catching the flu may seem quaint during a time when the media coverage of the novel coronavirus makes it out to be a potential pandemic. But while taking steps to avoid the virus is important, you should be far more concerned about the flu.
Avoid Catching the Flu
Every year, many thousands of Americans die from the flu. The statistics may seem quite shocking for those who think of influenza as being more of an annoyance. Although many of those who do succumb to the flu are elderly and those with other illnesses or medical conditions, even healthy young adults may die from the flu under certain conditions.
The best way to treat the flu is to not catch it in the first place. Many of the same techniques that will prevent the novel coronavirus and the common cold from spreading will also work to avoid the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Take daily requirements of Vitamin C
- Avoid touching your eyes or nose with your fingers
- Stay away from people who are coughing or showing obvious signs of illness
- Get vaccinated
While there is no vaccination for the novel coronavirus, there are vaccinations that protect against certain types of the flu. However, with new strains of the flu developing at a regular rate, even getting vaccinated is no guarantee that you will avoid the flu.
You may wonder if wearing a face mask helps as they are seen often in China. But they are only of use in very crowded areas. If you are stuck inside with lots of people nearby, then you might consider a face mask. Otherwise, simply keeping a distance and avoiding touching your eyes or nose will protect you well enough.
By taking the necessary steps to avoid the flu, you can also protect yourself from the novel coronavirus along with other communicable diseases and illnesses.