Influenza! Not part of the Holiday Festivities!
Richland County Health Department is seeing an increase in the number of confirmed influenza cases being reported for this season. Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness, it is not the vomiting & diarrhea stomach flu that so many people think it is.
As of December 24, Richland County has had 5 individuals confirmed positive for influenza since November which is an early start to the flu season. Two of those were ill enough to be hospitalized. The age ranges from 6 yrs old to 77 yrs old and all five had not been given a flu shot. The case numbers do not include 2 persons from out of state whom also tested positive here or those individuals that may experience influenza symptoms and are not diagnosed by a provider. This may indicate higher case numbers than officially reported.
What does all of this mean then to you the reader? It means that Influenza season is here in the county, state and nation so please take precautions to prevent getting it and spreading it to others!
Some of the reported symptoms include: scratchy sore throat, a slight cough at first then a painful harsh cough, sudden fever & chills, body aches, headache, exhaustion, weakness, difficulty breathing, loss of appetite and dehydration. Some people may think that the above issues don’t sound very bad but it can knock you down for 3-5 days that is if you stay home hydrate and rest to recover. Of course you may decide to push through and continue on with your daily activities and spread the illness to others which may not harm you but it could affect someone else that has other medical issues which could be life threatening to them. As a public health nurse - I ask you to please: stop, and think ahead of time about being part of prevention and not the cause! During this holiday season it is not best to give then receive!
Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that the 2014-2015 season could be severe and we at public health are reminding everyone to takes steps to protect themselves and others.
The best thing to do is to get vaccinated & wash your hands often. If you do become ill- please stay at home, get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and avoid spreading the infection to others in your school or workplace by covering your mouth & nose when coughing or sneezing. If you think you have the flu then you should call your health care provider before going to the office.
There are antiviral drugs (Tamiflu and Relenza) that can lessen the severity and duration of an influenza infection. These medications are most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. If you are “really sick” with influenza related disease (pneumonia, dehydration, delirium, etc.) you may be hospitalized for intravenous fluids and supportive treatments.
Contact your health care provider or pharmacist for vaccination availability. Vaccinations are given Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from noon to 4:30 p.m. at the Richland County Health Department located in Community Services Building. No appointment is needed, but you may call 406-433-2207 for more information.
For more information regarding vaccination and the impact of influenza, please visit the DPHHS website at http://www.dphhs.mt.gov.