Although the leaves have just started to turn color, Rome Memorial Hospital has already seen its first confirmed flu case, according to Director of Infection Prevention Emma Ingalls, R.N.
“Typically, we start seeing a handful of cases in October with flu season reaching its peak in January and February,” Ingalls said. “Because flu is highly contagious, the numbers tend to grow as temperatures get cooler and people spend more time inside where you’re more likely to be exposed to someone who has the flu.”
“You never know if the person sitting next to you might already have the flu,” Ingalls said explaining that adults can spread the virus one day prior to the appearance of symptoms and up to seven days after symptoms begin. “Seasonal vaccination remains your best protection.”
Schedule an appointment with your provider or visit a local pharmacy that offers vaccinations.
In addition to getting a flu shot and staying home when sick, it’s important to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from germs and avoid spreading them to others.
Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to use when soap and water are not available. Choose a product with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Instead, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Tissues should be discarded immediately and not reused. Use of a cloth handkerchief is not recommended.
Wipe down common surfaces frequently. Most commercially available cleaning wipes will kill the flu virus on contact.
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
Fever or feeling feverish/chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
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.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
Anyone can get the flu, even healthy people, and serious problems related to the flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.