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Health Department offers tips on staying healthy during flu season
Posted By Staff On August 26, 2009 @ 7:53 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
From press release
The 2009-2010 influenza season is quickly approaching, and as we all know, it is likely we will be contending with both seasonal influenza as well as the novel H1N1 strain of influenza. This represents a challenge for each and every one of us to stay informed and to participate in the actions everyone can take to protect ourselves, our families and community from influenza.
Every year about this time, health organizations start campaigns to prompt people to prepare themselves for the upcoming flu season. This year, preparation is even more important because we face the added risks associated with the H1N1 virus.
It is very unusual for this time of year to still be seeing influenza-like illness (ILI) continue throughout the summer months. The Rockford and Winnebago County area has been no exception, although activity has been low. Over the course of the summer, all locally-confirmed cases of influenza have been from the H1N1 influenza virus.
Mike Bacon, Winnebago County Health Department’s public health administrator, said, “We will see more illness from the H1N1 flu this fall than what occurred this past spring and summer.”
Given that flu is typically transmitted more easily in fall and winter and the uncertain impact of H1N1 co-circulating with season flu strains, Bacon said, “We must be prepared for perhaps an early and prolonged influenza season.”
2009 influenza facts:
• This novel flu strain has affected people in more than 170 countries across the globe, including the United States.
• Winnebago County has reported 60 cases in the last four months.
• This virus is spread from person to person.
• So far, the largest number of cases have occurred in people younger than 25.
• Symptoms of H1N1 include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue; people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea.
• People with H1N1 need to stay home for at least 24 hours after resolution of their fever.
• Novel H1N1 vaccinations are expected to begin in late October (community and school clinics).
• Vaccination priority groups include: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age, health care and emergency services personnel with direct patient contact, children 6 months through 4 years of age and children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.
While novel H1N1 influenza has been the focus of attention since this past spring, it is important we do not forget the risks posed by seasoned influenza. Some people, such as the elderly, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications from seasonal influenza.
• Every year, seasonal flu, on average, causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 people die from seasonal flu complications.
• Last year Winnebago Country tracked seasonal flu activity, which peaked in early March 2009.
• Symptoms include: fever, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, sometimes diarrhea.
• This virus is spread from person to person.
• The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting a flu shot earlier this year (September, October), but it’s never too late.
• Seasonal vaccination priority groups include: children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday, pregnant women, people 50 years of age and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, people who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including: health care workers, household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu and household contacts, and out-of-home caregivers of children younger than 6 months.
Now, more than ever, as we approach flu season, our community needs to take preventive steps to stay healthy and limit the spread of these viruses. The Winnebago Country Health Departments recommends the following:
1. Get vaccinated: Bacon would like to see, “People, especially those at high risk for serious complications, and their close contacts, start to go out and get vaccinated. September is not too early.” The protection you get from the vaccine will not wear off before the flu season is over.
Two separate shots will be available this year. It is important to understand the H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu shot. It is intended to be used alongside seasonal flu vaccine to protect people. It is anticipated that seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines may be administered the same day.
Winnebago County Health Department seasonal and H1N1 immunization clinics will be announced in September.
2. Remember the “Three Cs”:
Clean—Properly wash your hands frequently. Studies have shown flu virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person up to eight hours after being deposited on the surface. Routinely clean areas that multiple people often touch. Special cleaning with bleach and other special cleaners is not necessary.
Cover—Cover your cough and sneeze.
Contain—Contain your germs by staying home if you are sick. According to Bacon: “There is much each of us can do to prevent the spread of flu in the workplace, schools and throughout the community. Persons with flu-like symptoms should stay home from school, work and social gatherings, until 24 hours after resolution of their fever. People give off more flu virus when they have a fever. So, staying home during this time will be especially important to not spread the flu to co-workers, friends or fellow students,”
3. Talk with the children: Since influenza is spread as a result of person-to-person contact, it is very important for people in public to be diligent in following the Three Cs. School-aged students can, and will, have the greatest impact on our community’s health. With more than 66,000 students in Winnebago and Boone counties, this represents the largest communal population. It is imperative parents and teachers talk to the students about how best to minimize the potential for spreading the influenza viruses.
Important note for at-risk individuals: People at high risk for influenza complications who become ill with influenza-like illness should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medications is very important for people at high risk because it can prevent hospitalizations and deaths. People at high risk include those who are pregnant, have asthma or diabetes, have compromised immune systems, or have neuromuscular diseases.
For more information about seasonal and novel H1N1 flu, log on to the following Web sites: Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov; Winnebago County Health Department at www.wchd.org; and Health and Human Services at www.flu.gov.
from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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