With the flu especially so rampant this flu season, chances are if you have not had the flu yet, one of your family members has.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, “The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.”
John Ulbricht, CEO of Methodist Hospital South in Jourdanton said, “Texas is experiencing one of the worst flu seasons we have seen in many years. It is extremely important to remember how to prevent the spread of the flu. We can’t emphasize enough to frequently wash your hands. Also remember to cough into your elbow, opposed to your hand, to help prevent the spread of germs. If you do find yourself with symptoms of the flu, please see your primary care physician or you can visit our Walk-In Clinic, located on Highway 97 in Pleasanton.”
Methodist Hospital South is also handing out helpful information from the CDC they are giving to patients:
Signs and Symptoms of Flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms that usually start suddenly, not gradually:
•Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
•Runny or stuffy nose
•Muscle or body aches
•Fatigue (very tired)
•Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in young children than in adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Tips for preventing 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.)
•Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
•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.
The Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. John Hellerstedt encourages everyone 6-months-old and older to get vaccinated and also stresses the importance of good hygiene.
Vaccination can provide protection against flu as long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness. Vaccination is especially important for adults over 65, children under 5, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions because they are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu.
People experiencing symptoms are encouraged to seek treatment promptly. Antiviral drugs may shorten the duration or lessen the severity of the flu if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
The CDC also emphasizes cleaning and disinfecting as part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in schools. Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects and involves the use of soap or detergent. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces of objects and works by using chemicals. Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards. Sanitizing works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
The CDC also explains how to tell the difference between the flu and a cold. The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems.
During a press conference on Jan. 26, Dr. Dan Jernigan, Director of the Influenza Division in CDC’s national center reported there were seven more pediatric deaths during this last week, bringing the total of pediatric deaths due to the flu to 37 this season. He also said that while most with the flu will recover in a few days, those at high risk will need to go to the doctor or emergency room.
“Those who are at high risk that we recommend to get treated if they get sick with the flu are the very young, the very old, pregnant women and those with underlying illnesses like heart conditions and lung problems. In addition, otherwise healthy people can have influenza that goes on to more severe illness, and can have symptoms like shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, chest pain, very high and persistent fevers and ear pain. Those are the things that should lead parents or the individual to go see their doctor, where they may be prescribed antiviral drugs.”