(ROCKWALL, TX – Jan. 15, 2019) According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the 2017-2018 flu season was the first season to be classified as high severity, hospitalizing 30,453 people and taking the lives of 185 children. On January 8, 2019, Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) reported the first and second flu-related deaths of the New Year.
“We cannot predict the intensity, severity or duration of the flu season from year to year,” said Dr. Christopher Perkins, DCHHS Health Authority/Medical Director. “The best way to protect yourself and others is to get your seasonal flu shot.” It is not too late to receive the flu vaccine.
Because the flu can come on suddenly and without warning, key symptoms to watch out for include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and in rare cases, diarrhea or vomiting. The flu is most commonly spread through tiny droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk. People can also become infected when touching surfaces that have the flu virus on it, then touching their mouths, eyes, nose or even food. Most people may be able to spread the flu from 1 day before showing symptoms to 5 to 7 days after symptoms begin. Since the virus is easily spread, it is critical to follow these healthy habits:
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Stay at home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing.
- Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for all persons aged 6 months and older, with few exceptions. Individuals should discuss flu vaccine concerns with a health care provider. Getting a vaccination later in the season can still be beneficial. Vaccinations are generally offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later. Be aware that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and protect against the flu. The CDC also recommends being prepared during flu season, “Keep some over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues, and anything else you need so that you do not have to go out while you are sick. If you are really sick or have other medical conditions or concerns, call your doctor. Your doctor will let you know if you need a flu test, flu treatment, or other care (CDC, 2018).”
This year, do your part to stay healthy and don’t let the flu get you down! For more information, check out the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Flu Prevention display located at the Rockwall County Library beside the first floor elevator. For additional information, visit: www.cdc.gov/flu or call 1-800-CDC-INFO
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Julie Tijerina, Extension Program Specialist – email@example.com
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Dallas County Health and Human Services
Submitted by Aimee Sandifeer, EdD, Rockwall County Extension Agent, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, for publication in Blue Ribbon News.
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