State health officials report continuing increases in influenza (flu) related illness, hospitalizations and deaths. So far this season in San Joaquin County, Public Health Services (PHS) has received reports of six influenza outbreaks in long-term care facilities, 12 influenza-related intensive care unit admissions of persons under 65 years of age, and three flu-related deaths in persons under age 65.
Influenza viruses are spread mostly from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with influenza. People also may get sick by touching something with influenza viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose before washing their hands.
Vaccination is proven to be the best way to help prevent influenza and its complications. Since there may be two or more months left of this influenza season, it is not too late to get the flu vaccine.
“Everyone over six months of age who has not been vaccinated this season should get a flu shot now to protect themselves and others,” urged Dr. Karen Furst, San Joaquin County Interim Public Health Officer. “In addition to getting the annual flu vaccination, everyone can help stop the spread of flu by practicing proper hand washing, coughing and sneezing into their elbow, and staying home when sick.”
During the influenza season, it is important to be prepared with basic information that will help you in the instance that you or someone close to you comes down with the flu.
Influenza symptoms tend to come on suddenly. You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms: fever (usually high), chills, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
Influenza is a virus. It can’t be cured, but there are steps that you can take to treat the symptoms. Most people with the flu have mild illness, do not need medical care in the hospital and can be cared for at home. Certain people (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions) are at high risk for serious flu-related complications. If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor early in your illness for treatment.
Follow these steps for influenza care at home:
If you are pregnant or have a health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or emphysema, check with your health care provider about any special care that might be needed.
Avoid contact with others as much as possible. This is to keep from making others sick. Do not go to work or school while ill.
Stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
Get plenty of rest.
Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated.
Cover coughs and sneezes (with the crook of your elbow, sleeve or tissues).
Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after using tissues and after coughing or sneezing into hands.
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following emergency warning signs:
For Children – Fast breathing or trouble breathing, bluish or gray 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, and flu symptoms that improve but then return with high fever and worse cough.
For Adults – Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu symptoms that improve but then return with high fever and worse cough.
For more information about seasonal influenza, visit these websites: San Joaquin County Public Health Services, www.sjcphs.org; California Department of Public Health, www.cdph.ca.gov; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/flu.
To find a location near you where you can get a flu shot, go to https://www.vaccinefinder.org. Simply enter your zip code or city and state to find mapped locations of flu vaccine clinics.