Flu Cases on the Rise

Local health care providers are urging you to increase efforts to prevent flu and flu-related health threats by getting immunized. Since 2007 there have been 29 pediatric flu-related deaths recorded in Tennessee, including three in December, 2014, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. That is the highest number of pediatric flu deaths in the month of December since current reporting began in 2007. Prior to 2007 pediatric influenza deaths were not specifically required to be reported.
Almost five hundred people have been tested for the flu at the Family Medical Center and 139 cases have been confirmed, according to Office Manager Michiko Martin in a statement released to WJLE Wednesday. “Since October 1 until today (December 31), between our clinic here in Smithville and the one in Alexandria, we have performed 491 flu tests. Of those tested, there have been 99 testing positive for Type A and 40 testing positive for Type B. The majority of those have been positive this month (December),” said Martin.
Numbers of persons tested for the flu and confirmed cases at other local clinics were unavailable.
The Center for Disease Control has declared a flu epidemic with the number of deaths that have already occurred this season. The CDC is still urging people who have not yet been vaccinated to get their flu immunizations, which is recommended for nearly everyone over the age of six months.For one thing, the dominant version of the virus this year is H3N2 – which tends to lead to harder-hitting flu seasons. “H3N2 predominant seasons tend to have more hospitalizations and more deaths,” CDC director Thomas Frieden warned in early December.
The virus poses greatest risks to the very young and the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions. Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, runny nose, sore throat, headaches and fatigue. These are the recommendations from the CDC website:
CDC Says “Take 3” Actions To Fight The Flu
Take time to get a flu shot:
•CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
•While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common.
•Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
•Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine
•Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
•People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
•Vaccination also is important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
•Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
•Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
•If you are sick with flu-like illness, 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 without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
•While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
•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.
Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.
•If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
• Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
•Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this drug.
•Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.