2017-12-20 / Front Page

Flu activity low, other “bugs” going around

by Kate Evans

With the possible spread of seasonal influenza starting soon, health officials are urging anyone that hasn’t gotten their flu shot yet for this year to do so now. The flu surfaced in November and often gets circulating over the Christmas holidays.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) widespread influenza activity was reported in 12 states including Virginia, New York and Ohio during the week ending December 9, the most recent flu data available.

Regional flu activity was reported in 26 states including Maryland and local influenza activity was reported in 10 states including West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The District of Columbia reported sporadic activity.

Local illness reports

River Bend Family Medicine medical assistant Tonya Trembly said the office just had their first confirmed case of the flu on Friday and that their office is seeing bronchitis and sinus infections right now. She also said there is a stomach bug going around.

Morgan County Health Department nurse Patty Caldwell said that they haven’t seen a lot going on with flu yet. They’ve only had one confirmed case of influenza so far this season, which was back in November. The flu season hasn’t really gotten going here yet and things are pretty good right now illnesswise. She’s heard more about allergies and sinus problems this season which are still ongoing and said that a stomach bug is circulating.

Morgan County Schools head nurse Gina Mellott said she has not had or heard of any confirmed flu cases in the schools. Mellott, who is the nurse for Warm Springs Intermediate School, said that she’s currently seeing a few strep cases, upper respiratory illness and the stomach bug.

Vaccines advised

The CDC recommends that everyone age six months old and up receive a seasonal influenza vaccine every year by the end of October if possible. Flu vaccines provide protection from influenza and prevent flu-related complications, missed work and school and many flu-related hospitalizations and deaths each year.

Pneumonia vaccines are also recommended for children and adults of all ages. Children and people 65 years of age and older are the most susceptible to pneumonia. Flu and pneumonia vaccines are available through county health departments, family physicians and pharmacies.

Typically flu season peaks between December and March each year. It takes around two weeks for the body to develop antibodies against the flu from the vaccine and to provide protection from influenza infection. Getting the vaccine later in the season can still be beneficial.

Symptoms, complications

Influenza symptoms usually are fever, cough or sore throat and can also include headache, fatigue, runny or stuffy nose, chills or body aches. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also occur, especially in children.

Influenza can cause serious complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections. Complications can require hospitalization and become life-threatening or fatal. Influenza can also worsen chronic medical conditions such as asthma or congestive heart disease.

Flu death estimates rise

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that the seasonal flu death estimate had increased worldwide to between 291,000 and 646,000 deaths annually due to a new multinational survey of more countries. The study reported that the greatest flu mortality is seen in the world’s poorest regions and among older adults, who are vulnerable to disease.

“These findings remind us of the seriousness of flu and that flu prevention should really be a global priority,” said Joe Bresee, M.D., the CDC Influenza Division associate director for global health.

Tips to prevent illness

—Wash hands with soap and water often to prevent flu and other illness. Use alcohol based hand sanitizer when soap and water isn’t available.

—Stay home when sick, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or one’s sleeve and avoid touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth to prevent spreading germs.

—Clean and disinfect commonly used objects and surfaces and limit one’s contact with others while sick.

—Get plenty of sleep, drink lots of liquids.

Return to top