DARKE COUNTY — While seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter.
The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October. Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May.
Seasonal influenza, also known as the flu, is an illness that causes fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. It is usually spread from person to person by coughing and sneezing.
Most people who get the flu usually recover in one to two weeks, but the flu can be deadly. An estimated 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year in the U.S. Flu vaccine remains individuals’ best protection against flu and flu complications, like pneumonia. Flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that experts predict will be the most common during the upcoming season. Other ways to protect against flu:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
While Center for Disease Control recommends everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years of age
- People 65 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu.
You’re not feeling well. You’re exhausted, coughing and have a stuffy nose. How do you know if it’s the flu or merely a cold? To tell, look at the F.A.C.T.S. Do you have fever, aches, chills, tiredness and sudden onset of symptoms? — All of these symptoms point to flu.
A stuffy nose, sore throat and hoarseness without the other symptoms indicate a cold. For adults, vomiting is a sign of a stomach bug rather than flu.
Flu shots available at Darke County General Health District during immunization clinic on Tuesdays from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. If in need of a different day of the week, call and schedule an appointment. The Health Department is closed holidays.
To keep up with other public health-related issues make sure to check out Darke County General Health District online at www.darkecountyhealth.org, or find it on Facebook and Twitter. The Darke County General Health District also is available Monday through Friday between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. by phone at 937-548-4196.