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January is typically a slow month in Sedona. After all the hoopla leading into the holidays, most Sedona residents take a bit of a breather before festival season begins with the Sedona Marathon in the first week of February followed shortly thereafter by the Sedona International Film Festival in late February, which marks the unofficial start of tourist season.

Get a flu shot if you haven’t already — they are offered for free or for a nominal fee around the Verde Valley. In the meantime, many Sedona residents relax at home in January. The kids are back in school, the weather is cold and dry and pocketbooks are still recovering from their dip into the double or sometimes single digits following all the holiday gift-giving.

Managing Editor Christopher Fox GrahamIt’s the perfect environment for influenza to spread.

While some Sedona residents traveled the globe for the holidays, many others had relatives and friends come here, meaning there are numerous types of communicable diseases and strains of flu viruses making the rounds.

As we all head back to work and send our children back to school, those viruses find new incubators — humans — spending hours together in confined spaces.

According to news reports around the state, officials from the Arizona Department of Health Services said that lab-confirmed influenza cases increased more than 50 percent in just one week. Thus, hospitals in the Phoenix area have clamped down on visitors and increased restrictions on anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Flu cases this year aren’t as widespread as in previous years, but those who have gotten inflected reportedly suffer more seriously than in the past five years.

The flu is normally the biggest threat to infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The severity of symptoms on these groups can cause death. Generally, the young and middle-aged suffer symptoms, feel miserable and stay home to recover. However, this year, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said 60 percent of those hospitalized this season with severe symptoms were victims 18 to 64.

According to the CDC, the virus of chief concern this flu season is the H1N1 virus, better known as “swine flu,” which caused a world-wide pandemic in 2009.

Although the World Health Organization declared the pandemic over in August 2010, H1N1 is now one of our many seasonal flus and still circulates around the globe every year.

Use antibacterial wipes on commonly touched surfaces like faucets and door handles. Wash your hands often. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already — they are offered for free or for a nominal fee around the Verde Valley. Avoid those who are sick.

If you or your loved ones feel sick, stay home away from others and do what you can to prevent catching  and spreading the flu.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor














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