Flu: Get Your Shot in the Arm!
UPDATE: As of December 23, 2017, the number of states reporting widespread flu activity jumped from 23 to 36.
The highest hospitalization rates are among people 65 years and older (35.8 per 100,000), followed by adults aged 50-64 years (9.4 per 100,000), and children younger than 5 years (6.5 per 100,000).
A total of 12 influenza-associated pediatric deaths for the 2017-2018 season have been reported to CDC.
Influenza, or Flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can result in mild to severe illness. The serious outcomes of Flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. There are 2 main types of Flu viruses that are responsible for seasonal epidemics nearly every winter, A and B. Flu activity often begins to increase in October, peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May.
How is Flu spread?
· It is most often spread when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk, which spreads the infected droplets. These droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or are inhaled into the lungs
· People with Flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away
· It can be spread by touching a surface or object that has Flu virus on it, and then touching your own mouth or nose
· Those with Flu are able to infect other people 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days
· Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on Flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick
· Some people can be infected with the Flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others
Symptoms: People who have Flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
· Fever or feeling feverish with chills
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Muscle or body aches
· Some may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
· Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks
Flu Emergency Warning Signs: Get Medical Help!
Infants and Children
· Fast breathing or trouble breathing
· Bluish skin color
· Not drinking enough fluids
· Severe or persistent vomiting
· Not waking up or not interacting
· Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
· Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
· Fever with a rash
· Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
· Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
· Sudden dizziness
· Severe or persistent vomiting
· Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Diagnosis: Because colds and Flu have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone.
· Rapid influenza diagnostic tests work by detecting the parts of the Flu virus that stimulate an immune response. Results are provided within 10-15 minutes, but are not as accurate as other Flu tests. Therefore, you could still have Flu, even though your rapid test result is negative
· Rapid molecular assays detect genetic material of the Flu virus. Results are available in 15-20 minutes and are more accurate than the rapid influenza diagnostic tests
· There are several more-accurate and sensitive Flu tests available that must be performed in specialized laboratories, such as those found in hospitals or state public health laboratories. Results may take one to several hours
1. The single best way to protect against Flu is to get vaccinated each year. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body, which provide protection against infection.
Flu vaccine information: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/flu.pdf
2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of Flu virus
· 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 symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication)
· 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. Flu virus is spread this way
· Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with Flu virus
· Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first
3. Take Flu anti-viral medications if your provider prescribes them
· If you get Flu, antiviral medications can be used to treat your illness
· Anti-viral medications are different from antibiotics (which treat only bacterial infections). They are prescription medications and are not available over-the-counter
· Anti-viral medications can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick
· Studies show that Flu anti-viral medications work best when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful. They are most beneficial for those at high-risk of complications, such pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections, and dehydration
4. Those at high-risk of Flu complications:
· Children younger than 5
· Adults 65 years of age and older
· Pregnant women
· Residents of nursing homes
· American Indians and Alaskan Natives
· People who have medical conditions. Consult with if your medical provider to see if you are at risk for Flu complications
For more information on Flu and to monitor flu activity in the U.S., visit the CDC at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm