With one case of the flu already on the books in Fulton County this season, a local health official is encouraging residents to get vaccinated against the virus.
As of Oct. 3, one documented case of Influenza A had been reported in the county, said Marissa Dopp, director of nursing for the county’s health department. And because the illness is unpredictable, anyone is susceptible now through next May, although the flu usually peaks between December and February.
The health department dispensed 1,422 flu vaccines over the 2018-19 flu season. Over the past five years it monitored 133 flu-related hospitalizations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Ga., flu viruses affect the body’s airways. When the body’s immune system fights back inflammation can trigger such symptoms as cough and sore throat. An infected person can also experience fever and muscle or body aches.
Flu viruses can be spread through respiratory drops during coughing, sneezing, and talking, or by touching a contaminated surface, then touching the nose or mouth. The Ohio Department of Health lists influenza symptoms as fever, cough, headaches, chills, sore throat, and fatigue.
The CDC advises that people who become infected with influenza can be ill anywhere from several days to almost two weeks. They also can develop secondary ear and sinus infections. Those in more serious scenarios can go on to suffer complications such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles, and multi-organ failure. The center said those complications are more often seen in more vulnerable people, such as the young, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with particular chronic medical conditions.
Serious influenza symptoms in children can include fast breathing or trouble taking breaths, severe or persistent vomiting, extreme irritability, and difficulty in waking or interacting. In adults, flu may cause difficult breathing, abdomenal or chest pain, grayish/bluish skin, confusion, and dizziness. Under all of those circumstances, urgent care is probably necessary.
Preventative measures include plenty of handwashing, a precaution people may not realize can be pivotal to avoiding influenza. Hands should be cleaned before, during, and after food preparation, after coughing or sneezing, and after touching animals.
Individuals hit by the flu bug should drink clears liquids, get plenty of rest, and keep their distance from others. The ODH advises remaining home throughout the illness, even a day after a fever breaks without medication.
Children and teenagers should not be treated with aspirin, which can cause Reye Syndrome, a serious illness.
It is important to know about the types of vaccines available. A quadrivalent vaccine provides protection against two strains of influenza A and two strains of influenza B viruses. For adults age 65 and above, Fluad (influenza vaccine, adjuvanted) is given.
According to the CDC (2018), “an adjuvant is an ingredient of a vaccine that helps promote a better immune response.” This year, all flu vaccines contain the A/ Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated), A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated), B/Colorado/06/2017-like(Victoria lineage) virus, and B/Phuket/3073/2013- like (Yamagata lineage) virus.