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UFA LogoPUBLIC SAFETY CORNER--March

INFLUENZA UPDATE

By Asst. Chief Mike Watson

     It should be no surprise to anyone that this year’s flu season is well underway with high numbers of people across the country affected with Influenza-like Illness (ILI). This flu season’s ILI level is over two times more than previous years according to the Utah Health Department as of January 12, 2013.

     Although data is currently showing a downward trend, historically February is when flu activity peaks across the country; however, substantial flu activity can occur into May.

     So how can you help stop flu from spreading or contracting it?

  • Get vaccinated. The Center of Disease Control has stated that those having the flu vaccine have reduced the need to visit a physician by 60%. During the first week of January 2013, 91% of the influenza viruses are like viruses that have been included in the 2012-2013 vaccine.
  • Stay home if you get sick with ILI for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Your fever should be controlled without use of fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze. Practice proper etiquette to prevent the spread of germs or viruses.
  • Wash your hands. Frequently wash your hands or use alcohol based hand sanitizer to minimize transmission possibilities.
  • Minimize touching your face. Anytime you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth you increase your chances of acquiring illness.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

     While it has been reported that areas of the country are running out of the vaccine, your health care provider should have the vaccine and it is NOT too late to receive it.  It takes about two weeks after you receive the vaccine until antibodies develop and provide the best protection. You can still get sick if you were exposed prior to the vaccine and until the antibodies form.

     The flu vaccine is comprised of inactivated viruses, so you can’t get sick from the vaccine. While the vaccine is not always effective, it provides the greatest protection to prevent you from contracting the flu. At the very least, vaccination has shown to minimize symptoms if you are unlucky enough to come down with the flu.

     If you have questions, you may refer to www.flu.gov for more information.