A survey among 402 influenza-suffering adults, who claimed they had influenza (commonly referred to as the flu) in the previous 12 months, found a large number of misconceptions. Between 25 and 50 million Americans acquire the flu each year, but often do not know that treatment and prevention options are available. The survey was done on the behalf of Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Some common misconceptions that were found by the survey included: 18% think the flu is the same as a bad cold; 39% do not know or believe the flu is the same as influenza; 9% think the flu is the same as pneumonia; 19% think a poor diet makes some more likely to get the flu than others; and 13% think stress contributes to the likelihood of contracting the disease - doctors say that only those exposed to the virus can contract influenza. Also, nearly 60% believe that receiving a flu shot can cause a person to get the flu. Almost one in five think over-the-counter medications can prevent the flu. Only half of those surveyed were aware that prescription medications are available to stop the flu.
Influenza has a great impact on those who acquire the virus. Flu sufferers were sick for an average of seven days and took an average of 11 days to get back to their regular activities feeling completely well. Those who work missed an average of two days of work. Twenty-seven percent think they caught the flu from a member of the household and 37% think someone in the household caught the virus from them. Almost 13% did not know or did not think the flu is contagious. Only 56% of the people surveyed believed that getting vaccinated for the flu will prevent the flu.
The vaccine for the 1995 season included three influenza strains: A/Texas/ 36/91-like (H1N1), A/ Shangdong/9/93-like (H3N2), and B/Panama/ 45/90-like. This formula was based on analysis of last year's viral strains and the antibody responses of persons vaccinated with last season's vaccine.