It has been fairly mild year nationwide for influenza activity. Yellowstone County has seen an uptick in cases of the flu in recent weeks. Although it is recommended that people get vaccinated as early as possible in the fall, we are continuing to offer seasonal flu shots. The typical flu season goes from October to May, with a peak in the winter months.
Influenza is a virus that causes high fevers, runny nose, cough, vomiting and that general run over by a truck feeling. It leads to many missed days of school or work. Some work places even require a minimum of 10 days home if you contract the flu. Ouch.
Flu is not just vomiting and diarrhea often mislabeled as “stomach flu.” Stomach viruses are self-limited 24 hour bugs that, although miserable, are not dangerous enough in most cases to vaccinate against. (The one exception is rotavirus for which infants are vaccinated against, more about this in a later blog)
If you think you have had the flu and didn’t want to run right out to get vaccinated, you didn’t really have the flu. It is miserable.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, other precautions to avoid the spread of influenza include:
- 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-like illness, 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.)
- 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. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.