By Elsa Maxey
Fort Bend’s Department of Health & Human Services indicates that there have been reports from around the country of higher than normal numbers of influenza cases. In particular, the local agency states that in Texas and Fort Bend County more cases than usual are being reported. Hospitals and clinics are still seeing patients with flu-like symptoms, so officials aren’t ready to say the worst is over.
The local health agency routinely recommends that persons 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year as protection against the flu.
“People are generally immunized in the Fall, but they can still get protection from the flu for what remains of the flu season—even though the vaccine takes several weeks to take effect,” reports the county agency. So, getting a flu vaccine anytime during flu season offers some protection. But take note. Health authorities state that the current flu vaccine is 62% effective, which means that 38% of those who get vaccinated could still get the flu.
While in the midst of flu season which peaks in January or February, this year it seems to have struck a bit earlier.
Fort Bend County’s principal agency for protecting the health of county residents shares some important flu facts. The illness lasts one to two weeks and most healthy adults can inflect others one day before symptoms develop. Get this…five days after the flu, a person can still infect others!
If you have flu symptoms, like a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, feel feverish, have a cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, aches and chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, the latter being most common in children, it’s probably the flu. Health authorities recommend that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, unless you need to go out for medical care.
While sick, limit contact with others. Cover coughing and sneezing, wash your hands often, and stay home if you’re sick. The flu is known to spread by those “droplets” coming from coughing or sneezing, even talking. Also, touching a surface that has the flu virus and then touching one’s mouth, eyes or nose is how it can infect a person.
Take note…those persons most at risk are those 65 and older, children, and those with chronic health conditions. A report indicates that already seven pediatric deaths have occurred in Texas, but none in Fort Bend County. Texas was apparently one of 30 states reporting high flu activity earlier this month.