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Nearing peak of flu season

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By Vanessa Hurst

Winter is coming which means so is the peak of flu season. Flu season begins in October and lasts through March peaking in December through February.

LaRue County and surrounding areas are still in the sporatic stage of influenza outbreak. According to the CDC sporadic refers to a disease that occurs infrequently and irregularly. Officials at the Lincoln Trail District Health Department say that although influenza is sporadic, they are seeing more screens come back positive but have not seen positive cultures. Officials are advising people to take necessary precaution to help prevent the spread of illness.

People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 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 the 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.

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, however some people will develop complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections. The flu can make chronic health problems worse, for example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

To help prevent the spread of flu, officials at Lincoln Trail District Health Department (LTHD) would like to remind people that flu shots are still available and it isn’t too late to get one and that getting the flu shot, even if you are healthy, not only protects you it also protects those around you.

LTHD also would like to remind people the importance of washing hands, and recommend that people cough and sneeze into the crook of their arm or into a tissue.

It is recommended that children who are showing symptoms stay home from school until they are fever free for 24 hours. It is also recommended that those experiencing symptoms stay away from the immuno-compromised such as elderly, infants and individuals on radiation or chemotherapy.

According to the CDC most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

It is recommended that you contact your health care provider if you experience the following symptoms:

In children

Fast breathing or trouble breathing

Bluish skin color

Not drinking enough fluids

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

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

Being unable to eat

Has trouble breathing

Has no tears when crying

Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

Sudden dizziness

Confusion

Severe or persistent vomiting

Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications these people, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. If you are in a high-risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high-risk status for flu. Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started.

If you are otherwise healthy it is recommended that you or your children stay home get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.

For more information contact Lincoln Trail District Health Department at 270-769-1601 or visit their website www.lincolntrailhealthdepartment.com. You can also find information at www.cdc.gov.