For Your Family: Cold and Flu Season

January 31, 2011 5:11:17 AM PST
Check out what you need to know about the latest virus and bacteria attacking your stomach, throat and nose.

Q&A with Doctor Sharon Sholiton, a pediatrician with Rush University.

Is the cold and flu season any worse this year?

A: This year is actually pretty typical, but if you look at kids for example, they usually get six to eight colds, but it's all concentrated in a few months, so you may feel like they're getting one cold after another. And they are, but it's not unusual.

What are the common bugs going around right now that people are getting hit with?

Rhinovirus - causes the majority of upper respiratory infections
Gastrointestinal viruses - cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever
Influenza - currently seeing H1N1 and another strain

At what point are we contagious and how long are we contagious for?

A: We're contagious 24 hours before symptoms show and up to five to seven days after, so you really have to be careful as the person who's sick about preventing your germs from going around. Studies show just a 10-second hand contact can transmit germs.

To prevent getting sick, the answer is simple: Keep washing your hands with soap and water. And Dr. Sholiton says it's never too late to get a flu shot.