Wednesday, February 1, 2017 - 8:45am
Don´t let the Flu Catch You
While there has not been much flu activity reported locally yet, there is wide spread activity in many states across the country, with dozens of people reported hospitalized.
“Since the first of the year, we´ve seen 32 flu related hospitalizations in Dane County, and it probably won´t be too long before we start seeing even more cases. So it is certainly not too late to protect yourself and your family from this awful disease by getting a flu shot”, says Diane McHugh, PHMDC Immunization coordinator.
The label “flu” is often used loosely to describe a variety of conditions from a stuffed nose to bad cold or stomach symptoms. But the real flu, the illness caused by influenza viruses is a serious and highly contagious respiratory disease that in some cases can result in hospitalization or death. Older people, children under 5 years of age, pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart disease, etc.) are at particularly high risk for serious flu complications.
The flu vaccine offers the best way to protect yourself against the flu. “It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective, so now is a really good time to get that protection if you have not already” according to McHugh. “When you have that protection, you are also helping to protect others who can´t be vaccinated, such as infants under six months of age, or those with weakened immune systems.” The vaccine is still easily available at your medical provider, pharmacies, health department and other locations, and is inexpensive and sometimes free.
In addition to getting vaccinated there are a number of other steps you can take to help prevent getting or spreading the flu. First, avoid close contact with sick people and stay at home if you are sick. Be sure to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The other low tech and very effective way to prevent the spread of the flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Nationally, flu is responsible for hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or sometimes tens of thousands of deaths every year. Last season in Dane County (between November 2015 and May 2016), there were 425 flu-related hospitalizations.
For more information about the flu and flu vaccines from PHMDC
- Jeff Golden, (608) 243-0302, firstname.lastname@example.org