Flu Season Officially Open in Washoe County

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Do people in your house have the sniffles? Are you working harder
because co-workers are calling in sick?

If so, you're not alone.

Our medical reporter, Terri Russell is one of the few healthy people in our newsroom. Last week Washoe County reported its first official case of influenza.

Creative Services Editor Kevin Sak is busy putting commericals together for clients. For the past week-and-a-half he's been working with an additional strain . . . a viral strain to be exact. One that's left him without his regular voice.

"Two days after my flu shot I had a fever and
a sore throat and my voice when away. Two days later fever broke and here it is almost a week and a half later and I still don't have my voice back," Kevin says.

Was Kevin's sore throat and fever caused by the flu vaccine itself? That's a common misconception about influenza.

"You can be exposed to it in the grocery store, someone is walking down the isle in front of you and sneezes and you never even see that person," says Dr. Bill Davis of the Northern Nevada Medical Center. "But that whole cloud of virus is there and you walk through it and that's how you get influenza."

Dr. Davis says influenza occurs most often in the winter time because
more and more of us stay indoors and have closer contact with one
another.

A perfect example is here in the newsroom where in the last two weeks as many as three people a day have called in sick.

The medical challenge is to distinguish between the cold and flu.

With a cold, a runny nose, sore throat and congestion are more common
and symptoms come on more gradually.

Flu symtoms often hit suddenly and a hacking cough, high fever, achy muscles, fatigue and headache are more common.

One of the best ways to tell the difference is how long you're sick.

Colds usually last for a few days to a week. The flu can hang
around for up to two weeks.

You may think its time to load up on hand santizers to ward off the
flu. Dr. Davis says while mechanically that's a good idea because it washes the virus away.

There are two things to remember. First the sanitizer is for bacteria only and secondly, influenza is caused by airborne viruses.

Because it can be a life threatening problem for certain populations -
like the elderly - and cause epidemic, the flu is reported to local
health departments. The confirmation is made through lab testing and
nasal secretions.

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Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.
  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.
  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/flu/fluvac.htm ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)


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