Though it may have seemed as though more people than usual had the flu this past winter, a new survey suggests the number of people who got sick was about on par with the average for recent years.
According to the poll, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, of the approximately 2,350 people who were questioned, roughly 15 percent said that they had the flu during the winter months. That's right about where the rate was over the past four years, with 18 percent indicating as such in 2012, and approximately one-tenth responding similarly in 2011 and the two years prior.
At the same time, though, many people who think they had the flu may have not had it all. For example, when Harris pollsters asked respondents if they had been officially diagnosed with the flu by their physician, slightly more than one-third said they received confirmation from their doctor. People were more certain of their diagnosis in 2011 and 2012.
Meanwhile, those who didn't get the flu frequently got vaccinated in order to avoid it. Approximately 45 percent of respondents said they had a flu shot this winter. That's about the rate at which flu shots were taken advantage of in the four previous winters, Harris notes.
"This year's survey, similar to last year's survey, finds that about three fifths of these people are 'certain' they had the flu and spent one or more days in bed," said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of Harris. "However, just over one-third visited a doctor who diagnosed the flu - far fewer than in most previous years."
How to keep the flu bug out of the home
Though homeowners may never be able to fully "flu-proof" their home, there are some ways that they can go about a home inspection to ensure that common household items aren't infected with an influenza strain.
For instance, as noted by This Old House Magazine, homeowners may want to disinfect frequently touched portions of the house, such as door knobs, landline telephones, toys, sinks and the remote control.
"What's the first thing you do after you call in sick? Pick up the remote control," microbiologist and author Charles Getna told the home improvement magazine. "Sixty percent of them contain influenza virus in the home of a sick person."
Other portions of the home that may require a good cleaning include desks, cutting boards and cutlery like knives, forks and spoons.