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      Protect yourself from the H1N1 Flu Virus

      This year, the flu season got off to an early start and protecting yourself can be easy.

      Most people think of the flu as a just a seasonal illness, but Dr. Brian Smith with the Texas Department of State Health Services, said "Influenza is a very serious illness."

      While flu season comes and goes each year, Dr. Smith said this virus can kill.

      Smith is a Regional Medical Director with DSHS.

      He said this little vaccine could save your life.

      "Get it now, if you haven TMt had it yet, just the only caveat is don TMt blame to flu shot if you get sick five days from now because you were already exposed to the flu, and [you] got it before you had time to build antibody," explained Dr. Smith.

      He told Action 4 News that once you get that immunization, it takes a couple weeks for your body to build a defense against this year TMs H1N1 influenza.

      He also noted that over the last few years, those falling victim to the flu, have been much younger than in years past.

      "Older people may have been may have been exposed to it some years ago, and since its relatively new virus. It TMs the younger people that don TMt have much antibody," he explained.

      All the more the reason to get vaccinated, Smith said some people are more susceptible to catching H1N1 than others.

      "It may be pregnancy may be those with heart disease, anything like that, but it also includes diabetes and even obesity as risk factors for influenza and so those people definitely need to get immunized," he said.

      So what can you do to help better protect your loved ones from getting the flu?

      In addition to getting your flu shot and frequently washing your hands, Smith said it TMs relatively simple - live a healthy lifestyle.

      "Get a good night TMs sleep, good eating habits like fruits and vegetables. Good eating habits may prevent it as well. There no magic you can do to prevent the flu except the normal precautions we know about," said Dr. Smith.

      He said many people also think that the H1N1 flu can be treated with antibiotics, but that is a common misconception.

      Influenza is not a bacterial infection, but rather a viral one that must be treated with the appropriate antiviral medication.