MARYSVILLE – Influenza (flu) season is again upon us. While no flu cases have been reported yet in Marshall County for the 2018-2019 flu season, those traveling for the holidays or school events may be exposed during this time of year. Please take precautions to remain healthy, and to protect others from the spread of flu if you do feel the beginning of flu-like symptoms.
What can I do if I think I have the flu?
There are antiviral drugs that can be given at the onset of the flu that can lessen the severity or longevity of the virus. If you feel you may have flu symptoms, contact your physician’s office as soon as possible for an appointment.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people, especially children, may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may also be infected with flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
Once you reach the doctor’s office, please take precautions to protect those around you who may be vulnerable. If you are suffering from a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea, tell the receptionist immediately upon your arrival at the clinic. Wear a face mask upon arrival if you are suffering from flu-like symptoms to help protect those around you.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, the 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).
Take precaution against the flu
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.
- Get Vaccinated. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. There are several flu vaccine options for the 2018-2019 flu season. It is not too late to get the flu vaccine – contact the Marshall County Health Department or your physician’s office if you need a flu shot.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick – including work, school, or errands – when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands. If you use a tissue to cover your cough or sneeze, dispose of the tissue immediately, and wash your hands. Do not put the tissue in your pocket to reuse.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. See the month’s “To Your Health” article at http://www.cmhcare.org for more information on proper handwashing technique.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
People at high risk of developing flu-related complications
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old (children must be 6 months of age to receive the flu vaccine)
- Adults 65 years of age and older
- Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who have medical conditions including asthma, neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, endocrine disorders (such as diabetes), kidney, liver or metabolic disorders, people with weakened immune systems, or extreme obesity.
Be a good visitor
If you’re visiting a loved one in a hospital setting this holiday season, please keep these tips in mind for their health and yours:
- Sanitize hands before and after visiting.
The soap and hand sanitizer in patient rooms are for everyone. Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and leaving the room of the person you are visiting to avoid bringing in and carrying out germs.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Do not visit the hospital if you are sick or have had any ill symptoms within the last three days—including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever (or feeling feverish), an uncontrolled cough, or a rash.
- Check first before you bring food, send flowers, or bring the kids.