Over 3,300 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported to the Washoe County Health District this flu season, leading to at least seven fatalities. These numbers have health officials urging everyone to take preventive measures to keep from contracting the nasty virus now circulating across the country. Of particular concern is this season’s H3N2 influenza virus which appears to be extremely virulent among young children and older adults.
“For the first time in almost a dozen years, flu activity is ‘widespread’ across the entire nation with 49 out of our 50 states reporting high numbers of flu cases. This year’s virus has been particularly tough on kids, so parents need to take every precaution to keep their kids healthy and safe,” said Washoe County District Board of Health Member Dr. George Hess. According to health officials, parents of children returning to school after the holiday break should be particularly vigilant in protecting their young ones from the flu. One way to do this is to use the resources for flu prevention available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Their website has flu information for parents and children at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/parents/index.htm. Questions and answers about the flu, how to protect your child, treatment, activities and other materials are available on the site.
Health officials also continue to promote the following prevention measures:
Get a flu shot – Flu shots are your best protection against the flu. Even though the vaccine may not be an exact match to the circulating viruses, studies show that getting a shot can reduce the severity and duration of the illness.
Cover your coughs and sneezes – Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or into your sleeve keeps virus droplets from contaminating other surfaces, including your hands, and reduces the possibility of transmission to others.
Wash your hands – Every time you touch a common surface like phones, keyboards, doorknobs, tables, and desks, there is a chance of virus transmission because most people will eventually touch their faces, noses, and mouths, and that can lead to flu infection. So washing your hands regularly is very important.
Wipe down common surfaces – By disinfecting common surfaces like those mentioned above, possible transmission of the flu virus is reduced. The most common and least expensive way to do this is to use a chlorine bleach and water solution of ¼ cup bleach to one gallon of water. Wipe down the common surface and let it dry.
Stay home if you are sick – Flu is highly contagious. Stay home for at least 24 hours after fever from the flu subsides without the use of fever-reducing medications. Many people feel better after they have taken pain relievers and fever reducers, but they are still contagious, and can easily pass on the virus to others.
The CDC does not know exactly how many people die from the flu each year but estimates that there were between 12,000 and 56,000 flu-associated respiratory and circulatory deaths annually over the last few seasons. For more information on influenza activity visit the CDC’s website at: www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.