Flu struck early this season in Alabama

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, March 17, 2011

For Chilton County residents influenza (the flu) hit early this year. It is important to be proactive and take the necessary precautions to prevent catching and spreading the seasonal flu or any other strain of influenza.

This season, 102 flu cases were reported at the Chilton County Medical Center, said Tonya Pryor, infection control and employee health.

Different strands of the flu are discovered each season and usually, people are not aware they are infected until they already have it, said Ludean Hicks, clinic supervisor at the Chilton County Health Department.

The most common symptoms of the flu are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, vomiting, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort.

“It typically starts off as a soar throat or scratchy throat, sneezing, running a fever, then the aches come,” said Hicks. “If someone thinks they have the flu they should drink plenty of fluids because vomiting can cause dehydration, and visit a doctor to get medication.”

Those who think they might have the flu should drink plenty of fluids and take over the counter medications to help alleviate the symptoms. Those who are sick should also get plenty of rest and call the doctor if symptoms worsen.

“People with low resistance, children, elderly, or people who have asthma, diabetes, heart disease or are amino-compromised should get the flu vaccination,” said Hicks.

One vaccination protects against three strands of the flu; two strands of type B (seasonal flu) and H1N1.

“There are always three strains of the flu, they just find out which ones in particular are traveling in the Southern hemisphere,” said Pryor. “That’s why sometimes after someone gets the shot they get the flu, because another strain infects them.”

Because of the H1N1 epidemic last year, the vaccines were separated into two injections, seasonal and H1N1. This year, the injections were combined, said Pryor.

There are simple things to do to prevent the spread of germs and keep yourself and others around you healthy.

To prevent from becoming sick, frequent hand washing is a key way to prevent the spread of influenza.

The flu can be transported person to person by coughing and sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Those who are sick should also stay home away from work or school. Also, cough or sneeze into a tissue, which should be thrown away after one use, but if tissue is unavailable, cough into the crux of your elbow.

“It’s not too late to late to get vaccinated,” said Pryor. “It takes two weeks for the vaccine to take effect after the injection.”