January 18, 2018
The Jefferson County Health Department has been notified by local hospitals and clinics that they are seeing a large number of patients with influenza. This is a trend seen nationwide with more cases and deaths reported than in other years.
“We have heard that emergency rooms are seeing a large number of people with influenza and that there are more cases and deaths nationwide this year,” stated Gail Scott, Director/Health Officer of Jefferson County Health Department.
Influenza (flu) symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
In the United States (U.S.), influenza activity has increased significantly over recent weeks with influenza A(H3N2) viruses predominating so far this season. In the past, this type of influenza has been associated with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children compared to other age groups.
Influenza vaccine effectiveness in general has been lower against A(H3N2) viruses than against other type A or influenza B viruses. In addition to influenza vaccination for prevention of influenza, the use of antiviral medications for treatment of influenza becomes even more important than usual. These medications are most effective in treating influenza and reducing complications when treatment is started early and are recommended for outpatients and hospitalized patients with influenza.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that medical providers keep influenza high on their list of possible diagnoses for ill patients because influenza activity is increasing nationwide, and that all hospitalized patients and all high-risk patients (either hospitalized or outpatient) with suspected influenza should be treated as soon as possible with antiviral medications. While antiviral drugs work best when treatment is started within 2 days of illness onset, clinical benefit has been observed even when treatment is initiated later.
What can you do to fight the flu? Take the following three steps now! Step 1 – get the vaccine, Step 2 – stop germs and Step 3 – take antiviral medication if your doctor prescribes them.
Take time to get a flu vaccine. It is not too late to vaccinate! CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year.
Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for infants should be vaccinated instead.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu. Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
For more information about influenza or the vaccine please contact Jefferson County Health Department at 920-674-7275. Contact your doctor if you feel you may have influenza and seek out medical care if needed and especially if you at risk of complications.
Jefferson County Health Department
1541 Annex Road ♦ Jefferson, WI 53549 ♦ 920-674-7275 (Phone) ♦ 920-674-7477 (FAX)
For questions contact Gail Scott or Diane Nelson at 920-674-7275