By Frank Lewis
December 30, 2013
PDT Staff Writer
Just as in 2009 when the influenza pandemic hit, the H1N1 flu virus struck Scioto County late last week and into the weekend. The Ohio Department of Health reported late last week that influenza activity is on the rise in Ohio, and they are encouraging Ohioans to get their influenza vaccine.
“The flu virus will be less likely to spread if more people are vaccinated,” ODH Director Dr. Ted Wymyslo, said. “Immunization has proven to be the safest and most effective way to fight the flu so I encourage all Ohioans to get vaccinated.”
Scioto County Health Commissioner Dr. Aaron Adams said more cases are being reported in the area.
“We’re not really point to as one of the areas right now that has significant flu as far as states go. But I think locally we’re seeing quite a bit of it, and from what I am hearing there is a lot of influenza type illness,” he said.
Adams said Scioto County did well with the distribution of the flu vaccine this year.
“Most of the people that had the vaccine have gotten rid of it; the health departments, the pharmacies and some of the shopping areas that have pharmacies, like Krogers, still have the flu vaccine, and people should get the flu shot,” Adams said. “It takes about two weeks to develop full immunity, or as close as you’re going to be able to get, and it would be advisable to do that.”
While we are very early into the flu season, Adams said it is important to get the flu shot as soon as possible.
“If you get the flu shot, it could prevent you from getting the flu,” Adams said. “Or it could decrease the severity of your illness, and prevent maybe hospitalization, pneumonia, and other complications that go with it.”
Adams said there are precautions people should take to minimize their exposure to the flu bug.
“If people are sick — stay away from them, particularly if they have a chronic condition list, as they could worsen their symptoms of flu-like illness,” Adams said. “They should maintain a distance. Sneezes can travel one to three meters, and it is spread usually through aerosolation as people cough - avoid that. When you sneeze, cover your face. Use your sleeve if you can, or use a handkerchief or tissue. Use the alcohol gels to prevent contamination from one person to the other. Clean your door knobs off. If you’re sick, stay home, stay well.”
Adams also recommends eating a healthful diet, including lots of liquids, and to treat pain and temperature with Tylenol.
“If you’re diagnosed with the flu early, Tamiflu is generally the treatment of choice,” Adams said. “Many times, if the patient has that for more than 36 to 48 hours, the only thing left to provide that individual is usually an antibiotic. In addition they are giving Z-packs, Keflex, Amoxicillin, and sometimes different antibiotics.”
Adams said occasionally people end up hospitalized where they get screened to see if they have Influenza-A. If they have that virus, they are treated with antibiotics, and kept in the hospital, since it is difficult to take care of yourself when you have those symptoms.
“Right now we’re seeing it in young adults and middle-aged people, rather than the opposite extremes, small children, infants and older people,” Adams said. “So we may move from this into a more traditional seasonal flu as the winter goes on too.”
Symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue, and flu vaccine is available at most healthcare providers’ offices, local health departments and retail pharmacy chains. Wymyslo said for more information on influenza, including where to find vaccine, you may visit the “Flu Season in Ohio” feature at www.odh.ohio.gov.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.