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Dr. Love only, We are going to Antarctica on Feb. 13, and I…

Dr. Love only,We are going...
Dr. Love only,We are going to Antarctica on Feb. 13, and I am so worried about the flu--on the airplane and on the ship.I am afraid our trip will be wrecked. And because my immune system is somewhat compromised I am worried about dying on board the ship (no way to get help for 3 weeks).My instinct would be to take lots of Advil if I got the flu and cover my mouth and nose with a scarf so I wouldn't pass the germs along---and go to South Georgia Island anyway to see the penguins. But now I'm afraid this could kill me. Same fear for my husband.What do you think of all of this. I know this is a particularly dangerous flu this year. Do you think it will be waning by mid-February?
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
1/17/2018
Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 19,234
Experience: Family Physician for 10 years; Hospital Medical Director for 10 years.
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You are correct that this is a bad flu year, but it is not a reason to not go on your trip. The current estimates from the CDC is that the flu season has peaked, which suggests that it may be slightly less by mid-February, but the flu season will not wane completely until March or April.

The primary interventions would be efforts to prevent getting the flu. The flu vaccine is important, although one of the common flu viruses this year is not well prevented by the vaccine. The other major intervention is diligent hand hygiene, and it would make sense to carry a supply of hand sanitizer on your person throughout the trip and use it frequently.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
What about going out on a zodiac boat in the cold to see the penguins if I'm feeling awful. Is this likely to make the flu ravage my lungs and kill me? What if my fever is high, buy advil lowers it, and I go out? Is that dangerous. Of course I would cover my mouth and nose so as not to pass it around. I wouldn't really be doing any exercise. What are the chances of someone like me dying from the flu?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
It just seems like we are really likely to pick it up on the airplane or it could run through the ship really easily.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
What to you think?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
you believe that since we had the flu shot, we can get a lighter case? Why would that be?

I have already told you what I think - this is not a reason to avoid going on the trip.

If you are feeling awful with the flu, then you should be in bed, whether you are on a trip or at home.

If you get the flu, the likelihood of someone like you dying from the flu is low.

The flu vaccine decreases the likelihood of getting the flu because it stimulates antibody production.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
No, I've heard that the vaccine can make you have a LIGHTER case of flu--even if it doesn't really prevent it. Why is that? Or do you even believe it?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Do you think I should intentionally expose myself (and husband) to the flu now--we'd have almost 4 weeks to get over it before our trip.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
What about Tamiflu? Do you think I should try to get some and take it with us?

There is one study that showed that some people that gets the flu after a flu vaccine may have a milder infection, but further study needs to be done to determine whether this is truly the case. If it is true, it is likely because of cross-reactivity of the antibodies.

No, you should not get exposed to the flu, because you have no way of knowing which strain of flu may be present on the trip, nor how you could find that strain now.

If your doctor is willing to prescribe the Tamiflu, it is OK for you to have it with you on the trip. Some doctors are hesitant to prescribe the drug for a patient to use without being tested for the flu, but if your doctor is willing, that would be fine.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
How likely (%) do you think it is to contract the flu on a trip such as this (with lots of people from all over gathered in a closed space)

I have not seen any data on the percentage risk of contracting the flu on such a trip as this.

Dr. D. Love
Dr. D. Love, Doctor
Category: Medical
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
thank you
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