VISALIA – This year’s flu season has been more devastating than anything in recent memory. Before the close of January, two more women under the age of 65 have died from influenza A-related infections, as confirmed by the Tulare County Public Health department.
“It is with great regret that I am again informing the community of deaths from influenza,” stated Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Health Officer. “The flu can have serious, life-threatening effects, including death; community members should get their vaccination as soon as possible.”
To prevent contraction or spread of the flu:
- Get vaccinated every year.
- Good hand-washing is very important; wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid contact with sick individuals.
- If you experience flu-like symptoms, stay home 24-48 hours after symptoms resolve, unless you are seeking medical care.
- Use medications as instructed.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing; avoid using your hands, but if you do, immediately wash or use antibacterial cleanser to help prevent germs from spreading.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Influenza symptoms include fever, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, chills, and a headache. If you have symptoms of influenza, contact your health care provider promptly to find out if antiviral treatment is needed.
Seek emergency medical care when you see signs of serious illness. Below are some of the signs to watch for:
- Adults may experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, and dehydration.
- Children may experience hyperventilation or difficulty breathing, vomiting, dehydration, lethargy, irritability, restlessness, or bluish skin color.
- Infants may experience a decreased appetite and dehydration, bluish color, fast or irregular breathing, irritability, or excessive sleepiness. Also, any infant under 3 months of age with a temperature over 100.4 should be evaluated by a physician right away.
- Anyone whose symptoms improve but return with fever or worse cough should get help right away.
Individuals with flu symptoms, particularly those with risk factors such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, and children age five and younger, should talk to their health care providers about antiviral medication.
Vaccination is recommended for everyone over the age of six months, and the vaccination is available at physicians’ offices and local clinics, at many local pharmacies, and through the Health & Human Services Agency (HHSA) immunization program. HHSA immunization program staff can be reached at 559-685-5725. At this time, the vaccine is widely available in the community. Additional information can be found at www.flu.gov.
It is especially important for high-risk groups to be vaccinated. These groups include:
- Any person with a chronic medical condition that requires frequent medical attention (Examples include asthma, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, and severe obesity; and there are many others.)
- Pregnant women
- Any person who will have contact with an infant less than 6 months of age or with someone who has a chronic disease during the influenza season
- Children under the age of five and all persons over 50