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2017-18 FLU SEASON UPDATES & INFORMATION

The 2016-17 flu season* was especially bad for the elderly. During the 2016-17 flu season, Kitsap County experienced 13 influenza-related deaths, and 20 influenza outbreaks at long-term care facilities. The most common strain seen in the U.S. and Washington State last season, H3N2 (a strain of Influenza A), tends to affect the elderly more than younger people. It is very difficult to predict how severe a flu season will be. However, based on flu activity in parts of the world that experience flu season before ours, it is possible that the 2017-18 flu season will be similar to last season.

Getting a flu shot is an important first step in protecting you and those you love from influenza and its complications. Additional important steps include washing hands before handling food and touching eyes, nose and mouth; covering coughs with a tissue or elbow; and staying home when ill.

10/16/17 - Now is the time to be thinking about preventing seasonal influenza ("the flu")

*September 2016-August 2017

KITSAP PUBLIC HEALTH DISTRICT RESPIRATORY ILLNESS REPORT

The Kitsap Public Health District provides a weekly report in which we report the level of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) activity in Kitsap County, as well as influenza-like illness (ILI) visits to local medical providers and at emergency rooms.  If you wish to receive this report via email or receive a text message notification when it is issued each week, please visit www.kitsappublichealth.org/subscribe.

Getting the flu vaccination is important

Getting an annual flu vaccination is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors' visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy, and can also protect a baby after birth from flu. Flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza, and can be life-saving in people at special risk of complications from the flu.

The influenza virus is easily spread from person to person and the flu can be a very serious illness. Millions of people across the US get sick—and thousands die— from flu illness each and every year. Flu vaccine is the best protection we have and has been used safely and effectively for over 70 years.

Nasal FLU VACCINE sprays not recommended for 2017-18 flu season

The live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), commonly referred to as nasal spray flu vaccine, is not recommended for use for any ages during the 2016-2017 flu season. Recent studies show that nasal spray vaccine doesn't provide adequate protection against flu disease and illness.

Flu vaccinations are recommended every year

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older get the flu vaccine every year. Viruses—including the flu virus—have the ability to change every year. Flu vaccine is updated annually to include protection against the strains of flu believed most likely to circulate in that particular year, based on worldwide surveillance.

SIDE EFFECTS OF THE FLU SHOT

Every year millions of people get flu vaccines, which public health experts carefully monitor. Most people get a flu shot with no problem. Side effects can include soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling at the spot of injection. These side effects are mild and short-lived, especially when compared to symptoms from a bad case of the flu. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.

WHERE TO GET YOUR FLU SHOT

Check with your healthcare provider about the vaccine. You can get a flu shot at many local pharmacies.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FLU

WHAT IS INFLUENZA OR “THE FLU?”

Influenza (also known as “flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.  The flu can cause days of fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches. Each year thousands of people go to the hospital because of the flu.

HOW DO I PREVENT THE FLU?

The first step in preventing seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands are also very important to stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu.  

1. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

3. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.


Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Those at risk of complications should contact their doctor as soon as symptoms develop to discuss antiviral medication, which can be life-saving.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE FLU SYMPTOMS?

Some people are more at risk for flu complications, especially:

  • Seniors.
  • Children under age five.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People with diabetes, asthma, or other chronic conditions.

If you are at higher risk for flu complications and you develop flu complications, see your healthcare provider right away. Antiviral medications taken within a day or two after the flu symptoms start might help people at higher risk avoid complications, including pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.

If you have no underlying chronic health conditions and are not among the high-risk groups, you can usually treat yourself or your child at home by getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.

WHEN SHOULD I SEE A DOCTOR?

See a healthcare provider for an evaluation if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fever greater than 100.4 degrees that’s lasted more than four days (fevers may be intermittent).
  • Fever that went away but has returned two or more days later.
  • Coughing up mucus tinged with blood.
  • Rattling chest sounds when taking a deep breath.
  • Fainting spells, dizziness and/or severe dry mouth.
  • Urinating less (or babies have less than three wet diapers per 24 hours).
  • You are pregnant (pregnant women should seek immediate care if flu symptoms are present rather than making an appointment at an OB office).
  • People younger than age five or older than age 65. People with chronic medical illness such as diabetes, heart failure, cancer, etc. or other high-risk groups for complications from the flu.

WHEN SHOULD I CALL 911 OR GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM?

Seek emergency medical attention if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing.
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
  • Bluish or gray skin color.
  • Severe or persistent vomiting.
  • Not waking up or not interacting.
  • Sudden dizziness.
  • Unable to talk in full sentences.
  • Confusion.
  • Children who are so irritable that they do not want to be held.

RESOURCES


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