Flu season set to be severe

By Sarah Pridgeon

Missed out on your flu vaccination before Christmas? With nationwide reports indicating that 2018 is becoming a particularly severe flu season, Crook County Public Health (CCPH) recommends stopping by to get your jab.

“We are recommending getting the shot and still have them in our stock,” confirms Deb Worrell, CCPH.

Flu activity is high and widespread across Wyoming, according to the Department of Health, including in the northeast. Correlated figures are from the first week of January suggest that, while Crook County had only one reported case, Weston County experienced six and Campbell County had 72.

By the third week of January, the number in Crook County had risen to four, while Campbell County’s total reported cases had reached 134.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the third week of January saw flu activity increase across the United States, with high flu activity reported in 39 states including Wyoming. During that time, the CDC reports seven pediatric deaths associated with flu and a cumulative rate of 41.9 hospitalizations per 100,000 people across the nation.

Flu can be passed on before a person even realizes they are sick, as well as once the symptoms develop. The most contagious period for most people is the first three to four days after the illness begins, according to the CDC, but some adults can infect others one day before symptoms appear and up to seven days after, while others, particularly young children and people with weakened immune systems, can be contagious for an even longer period.

The flu virus is generally believed to spread through tiny droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, or less commonly by touching a surface or object with flu virus on it and then touching your own mouth, nose or possibly eyes. The CDC notes that it takes between one and four days from the time you are exposed to the virus and infected to when the symptoms begin to appear.

Symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

The Department of Health recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone over the age of six months. To help reduce the spread of the illness, avoid close contact with sick people and limit contact with others as much as you can while sick.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw the tissue in the trash afterwards. Wash your hands often with soap and water, try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and clean and disinfect any potentially contaminated surfaces and objects.

The CDC also recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) if possible.