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Column: I wrote about it, then suffered it

Posted: February 8, 2018 2:55 p.m.
Updated: February 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I’ve written about the flu here in Kershaw County twice. It seems only fitting I should experience it, right? Well, no, actually I don’t think that, but I ended up doing so anyway. And, no, it was no fun finding out I actually did have Type A flu last Friday.

I was lucky, though; my case was quite mild compared to what I understand others have suffered, including one of my own sons, who likely passed it on to me, so, thanks, kid!

I never spiked a fever; never got the chills; my cough and nasal congestion weren’t that bad and even a mild headache pretty much went away.

What I was the entire time was extremely tired. I took longer naps at unusual times, but, mostly, I just sat around catching up on TV shows and playing a really good computer game set in ancient Egypt.

I also suffered through a bit of queasiness, a side effect of Tamiflu. Even that didn’t completely kill my appetite, thankfully.

I was lucky. Others, not so much. Both of my sons have been in and out of school for two or three weeks now. One of them “may” have had a “mild case,” but was never formally diagnosed. The other definitely had the flu along with all the full-blown symptoms. Luckily, he seems to be over it now.

One friend communicated through Facebook that they were trying “really hard not to die.” Some of their friends, in turn, pretty much said the same thing. Several also noted that while they were pretty much “over” the flu itself, the coughing and lethargy stuck around for days, if not weeks later.

This is not a myth, so if you haven’t gotten the flu yet, or are still suffering its worst effects, listen up, As Vox.com put it Wednesday, “If you have the flu, you’ll know it by how utterly zapped of energy you feel.” The site’s Julia Belluz also said, “One makes you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck.” That would be the flu, which can make a lot of people get the chills and body aches, where you, literally, can feel as though you’ve been beaten up or run over.

Again, I got lucky; it never got that bad for me. Vox, which calls itself an “explainer” site, noted several things, although it failed to explain one thing.

There are actually four, not two, species of influenza (or, flu) viruses, A, B, C and D. Seasonal flu is caused by types A and B, of which different strains circulate each year. The symptoms (usually) are fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle pain and sore throat. Colds tend to be milder and “rarely cause fever or chills, and are more likely to be marked by sneezes and a stuffy nose,” Belluz wrote.

Notice what’s missing from her explanation? What the heck are Type C and D flu?

In “Microbiology and Immunology Online” (2009), Margaret Hunt of the University of the South Carolina School of Medicine wrote that influenza C is usually only associated with minor symptoms.

Like Type B, the Type C flu virus is not as easily isolated as Type A and, therefore, less is known about it. What scientists do know is that Type C tends to cause mild upper respiratory infections with cold-like symptoms.

Next, according to Science Daily, in 2011, scientists isolated a new strain of flu virus and, five years later, in September 2016, it was officially named Type D. Its primary “reservoir” -- meaning where it tends to cultivate -- is in cattle. It’s the first type to do so. The Science Daily article indicates Type D is about 50 percent similar to Type C and that, unlike A or B, it can only be spread through direct contact. It’s unlikely any of us are going to get Type D flu anytime soon.

On the other hand, the scientists who discovered it warned that if Type D ever combines with another type, it “could pose more of a threat to humans.” Here’s  hoping that doesn’t happen.

Going back to Vox, Belluz asked, “What about ‘stomach flu’?” Well, there’s no such thing. Stomach flu is “an intestinal infection caused by viruses like novovirus or bacteria from food, and it leads to diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and fever.” Instead,  “stomach flu” is actually gastroenteritis or, if you must, “stomach bug.”

In a chart listing out the signs and symptoms of the flu versus cold, other than fever, none of gastroenteritis’ symptoms come up for either flu or colds.

Still, it’s a good idea to check with your doctor if you think you have the flu. I was worried because I knew I’d been exposed. I have a feeling my relatively mild experience was because we caught it before it got any worse than it already was.

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