The Fulton County Health Department is noticing a definite increase in influenza (a disease of the respiratory tract) and influenza-like-illness reports during the early months of this 2012-2013 Flu Season. This mirrors what’s happening across the state and nation and has been the focus of many recent news reports. The Ohio Department of Health reports widespread activity with an increase in the number of influenza-associated hospitalizations to 1,230 persons as of December 31. This is a significant increase compared to the 71 hospitalizations observed in 2011.
Physicians and hospitals are only required to report hospitalized patients with influenza, but many also provide additional information to the Health Department. Such reports include the number of people who have positive lab tests for influenza as well as those who have all of the symptoms of influenza (also known as influenza-like-illness or ILI) but who did not have testing. According to Mike Oricko, Health Commissioner, “the number of reported influenza and ILI cases in our community for the month of December 2012 totaled 115 compared to only thirteen cases in 2011”. As of January 11, there have been 28 cases reported. The season has started earlier this year; whether or not it will continue at this pace through April when flu season typically ends is unknown.
So what can you do to protect yourself from the flu? Getting a flu vaccination (shot) can reduce your risk of getting the flu, especially when there is a good match between the circulating strains and the vaccine that’s been manufactured. Secondly, one can reduce the risk of flu by washing your hands frequently and carefully with soap and water. If you become ill, stay home, rest, and drink plenty of fluids. Be sure to cover your cough when around others.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccination against the flu for anyone age 6 months and older, but it’s especially important for pregnant women, children younger than age 5, persons age 65 and older, and those with chronic medical conditions or a compromised immune system. The Health Department still has flu vaccines available for all ages during our nursing hours each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm or at our late immunization clinic lasting until 6:00 pm on Thursday, January 17. The cost is $10 for children through age 18 and $20 for adults. High dose vaccine is also available for persons aged 65 and above. Medicaid and Medicare accepted. Stop by and get vaccinated; no appointment needed!
For more information please call Mike Oricko at 419-337-0915.