Influenza Merits Precautions [AUDIO]
Influenza cases are far below the number they were last year in Wyoming, but they are on the rise. Wyoming Department of Health spokesperson Kim Deti (dee'tie) said that flu season runs from October through May, and although the numbers are down, there are signs in surrounding states that flu is on the rise.
Flu season late start:
"What we're trying to do is tell people, perhaps before things get more widespread, that, hey, it is flu season; things are starting to pick up and we want to remind you to take precautions to help keep yourself from getting ill."
The best precaution is the flu shot, which are tailored each year to protect people from the flu strains that could be out there, says Ms. Deti, and there's a reason not to procrastinate.
Immunization lag time:
"We do want to remind people that it takes up to two weeks for flu vaccines to offer effective protection, so if you get exposed to the virus in the meantime, you may still become ill and we don't want you to blame that vaccine."
Other precautions include washing your hands often and well, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve or a tissue, and keep in mind that flu can spread by contact or through the air.
Casual contact contagion:
"And we ask folks that if they are ill, to try to stay home from work, school, keep the kids out of daycare and avoid running errands if you can because you don't want to spread that to other folks."
The idea that there's nothing that can be done for the flu is no longer true. But the health department wants people to know that not everyone is equal in how well they resist the flu, and the very young and old, and people with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable.
"We don't want people, particularly those who are most vulnerable to the complications of influenza to maybe consider seeing a doctor early in their illness, and the doctor may choose to recommend a prescription antiviral medication. Those can be helpful to those higher risk folks to kind of lessen the duration of their symptoms."
Ms. Deti said there's some confusion out there with terms like the stomach flu, but the flu they're talking about is influenza.
Symptoms of flu:
"Typically includes fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches, those are the most common symptoms."