Our hospital infection control team and the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
report that flu season has arrived early – the earliest it’s started in seven years. And because it’s early, it may last longer and be deadlier than previous years.
Influenza arrived early at our hospitals and across the U.S.
According to Shawn Elkin, RN and Infection Prevention Supervisor at Community Regional Medical Center, both Clovis Community and Community Regional are seeing a rise in patients coming to our emergency departments and being admitted with influenza-like-illness and/or confirmed influenza lab test results.
Elkin also confirmed that California is reporting moderate influenza-like-illness rates with widespread activity. Nationally, the rates of influenza exceed the national baseline and it appears that we are getting the earliest start to the flu season compared to the past 7 years of seasonal monitoring.
But we aren’t considering this year’s flu season an epidemic yet. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 6.2% of flu cases are deadly (compared to an epidemic rate of 7.4%)
Now is the time to be vigilant about looking for flu symptoms and getting serious about taking steps to protect yourself from the virus.
Signs you might have the flu
The flu can be sneaky. People can be contagious even before showing symptoms.It usually takes about four days after you inhale for the flu virus to hit – and the symptoms can be harsh.
Here are some of the most common flu symptoms:
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Moderate-to-high fever
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Severe muscle and body aches
- Extreme fatigue
Sometimes complications happen just when you’re starting to feel a bit better. These secondary problems could be a severe sinus infection, ear infection, pneumonia or heart problems.
And yes, people do die from the flu – even with modern medicine. Children, older folks and those with other health issues are most at risk. In fact, the CDC estimates in a bad year flu-associated deaths reach 49,000 in the U.S.
How to protect yourself from the flu
It’s time to get serious about protecting yourself and your family. Our hospital infection control team and the CDC recommend the following actions to keep yourself healthy through flu season.
Prevent and protect against the flu. It’s not too late to get vaccinated.
Get yourself and your family vaccinated
An annual vaccination is the first step to protect against the virus. It’s recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. The Fresno County Department of Public Health
is offering free flu shots at several locations throughout the Central Valley. Click here to find your nearest flu vaccination clinic.
Avoid contact with sick people
Encourage your coworkers, friends, and family to stay home when sick – and try to not visit them. If you become sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
Wash your hands as often as possible
This simple preventative step can help stop the spread of the virus! Wash your hands regularly, especially after coming into contact with someone who is sick. Don’t be afraid to get your hand sanitizer out as a backup!
Make sure your immune system is ready
Drink plenty of H20, exercise regularly and make sure you’re getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. It will help get your immune system ready to fend off an attack.
By Erin Kennedy
Sr. Communications Specialist and member of CMC’s 2017-18 flu season prevention committee