2017 influenza activity higher than 2016
Influenza, with its symptoms of fever, cough or sore throat, and muscle aches, is here. Flu cases for 2017 were double those from 2016 same week, validating experts’ fears that this season could be particularly bad. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) FluView report during week 51 (December 17-23, 2017), influenza activity increased sharply in the United States. Though the effectiveness of flu shots can vary each year, the first and most important step in preventing flu still is to get a flu vaccination each year. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination that provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine. CDC recommends use of injectable influenza vaccines (including inactivated influenza vaccines and recombinant influenza vaccines) during 2017-2018. The nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2017-2018. The quadrivalent vaccine provided through Argonne this flu season did contain this season’s most prominent influenza virus H3N2.
Keep in mind, there is still a possibility you could get the flu even if you were vaccinated. The ability of flu vaccine to protect a person depends on various factors, including the age and health status of the person being vaccinated, and also the similarity or “match” between the viruses used to make the vaccine and those circulating in the community. Upper respiratory tract infections (cold, flu and other upper respiratory viruses) are contagious so if you are not feeling well, have a fever, and significant sneezing or respiratory fluid production that increases the chance of spreading the infection, please stay at home. Influenza infection can result in complications like pneumonia, so it is important to give yourself enough rest and recovery time.
Prevention tips for influenza
Viruses that cause influenza can spread from infected people to others through the air, respiratory secretions and close personal contact with an infected person. Some practices that are genuinely effective in the ways to decrease the risk of getting sick or spreading illness are:
- Make sure you are eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep and exercise, and moderating your stress
- Get the influenza vaccination each year
- Wash your hands frequently
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may have been contaminated with germs (shared computer keyboards, workstations and shopping cart handles)
What to do if you get influenza
- Take antivirals drugs (within 48 hours of symptom onset) if you are at high risk for complications (elderly, chronic health conditions, pregnant or other immunosuppressed status) or as prescribed by a doctor
- Drink plenty of fluids and get rest
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them
- If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 to 48 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) except to get medical care or for other necessities
- Continue to be sure to get additional rest for a week or two after your illness to prevent the likelihood of complications
- Please stay home until you feel better!
Health and Employee Wellness (HEW) does not carry rapid influenza tests. Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms.
HEW is out of flu vaccines. Please contact your local pharmacy or personal physician’s office if you are unvaccinated.
By Ellen Connolly, occupational health nurse practitioner (HEW)