“It’s not too late to receive your flu shot,”
Posted Friday, January 23, 2015
By Lori Kesinger
“It’s not too late to receive your flu shot,” according to the Fallon County Public Health Department. Influenza is circulating in the community and could become more widespread compared to the past few years.
“Influenza activity has increased across the state of Montana during the past few weeks. Last week there were 479 new cases reported. Season to date, 2173 cases have been reported including 270 hospitalizations. Fallon County has also seen an increase in flu activity over the past few weeks. We have had both positive Influenza A and Influenza B reported. The dominant strain reported is Influenza A/H3N2,” said Kim Cuppy, Health Dept. RN.
Even though the predominate virus slightly changed so the flu vaccine isn’t as effective, it doesn’t mean it’s not working. An individual may receive protection against three or four strains of influenza depending on the vaccine received. Since there are variations of the flu, the vaccine will likely provide some protection and lessen the severity and duration of flu symptoms.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. The flu comes on suddenly, unlike a cold. People who have the flu may have some or all of these symptoms: Fever (not everyone will have a fever) or feeling feverish/chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea.
People with the flu can make others sick one day before symptoms appear, and up to five days after symptoms begin. Many health departments and physicians recommend a full seven days at home before returning to work or school.
The Health Department recommends the following prevention steps.
• Stay home when you are sick. By doing this, you help prevent others from catching your illness at work, school, daycare, and the general public.
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve not your hand.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.
If you have questions concerning influenza, call the Fallon County Public Health Department at 406-778-2824.