The flu season is here and it’s hitting us quickly. Health care providers nationally are reporting an uptick in visits (3.5%) for influenza-like illness (ILI) and according to the CDC, it has been at or above the national baseline of 2.4% for four weeks.
What we know about influenza season in 2019 so far as of the first week in December:
- Hospitalization rates are right about where they were in the past few years, while the percentage of deaths (4.8%) related to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) are below the threshold of 6.4%.
- An estimated 900 people have died and 1.7 million have been infected so far.
- It’s too early to tell if this rapid start to the season will lead to a more severe outbreak.
- 12 states report high levels of activity according to the CDC.
- Upwards of 61,000 people died from flu during the 2018-2019 season.
U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) during a hearing with health officials said that “last year marked the longest flu season in a decade,” and continued to state that “this year’s flu season is off to an alarmingly fast start.”
“We have 3 confirmed cases within the last 24 hours in the county and they have all tested positive for influenza,” said Kristen Price, CFMC’s Urgent Care provider. She also stated that “there have been close to a dozen cases of pneumonia in the county as well.”
Because Caswell County has seen a rise during flu season this week with influenza cases and pneumonia, we urge our patients and friends to take precautions.
- Wash your hands. This may seem obvious, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to wash your hands regularly. Do not touch your face unless you’ve washed your hands and/or used bacterial wipes on surfaces with which you may come in contact. This includes electronic devices.
- GET YOUR SHOT. The flu shot is less than 50% effective for this year’s flu season, but it provides a level of protection for you that you won’t get on your own. If you get the flu, the symptoms you experience are likely to be less severe than if you didn’t get the shot. Getting the flu shot also helps to keep it from spreading to the more vulnerable population such as the elderly or newborns and toddlers.
- Avoid Contact with Sick People. And make sure you limit your contact with people as much as possible if you are sick.
- Stay Active. Good circulation comes from being active during the day (or night) and in turn, helps your immune system battle the flu. According to a study in 2007, exercising after receiving a flu shot can practically double the flu antibodies.
- Get rest. Your body circulates immune-protecting white blood cells when it has enough sleep. Getting proper sleep (7 hours or more at least) per night will help ward off the flu.
- Ask Your Doctor. Your provider may want to prescribe antiviral medication to treat flu illness and can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick.
- We repeat – Get Vaccinated!
If you test positive for flu, the CDC recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care.