Public Health notes: the flu, you

  • Published
  • By Maj. Trinette Flowers-Torres
  • 22nd Medical Group
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 children under the age of 18 have died because of the seasonal flu, 2,257 people had been hospitalized with flu symptoms through the end of 2012, and all fifty states have reported a significant increase in the number of influenza-like-illness and respiratory syncytial virus cases.

Kansas has been identified as a state with a high incidence of ILI activity and it is probably safe to say that you or someone you know has been sick with some of the symptoms of the flu: fever, fatigue, sore throat and muscle aches.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and may lead to death if not treated in time. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills. It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Certain segments of the population are more susceptible to and are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes older people, young children, pregnant women and people with medical conditions such as but not limited to, asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and persons who live or work in facilities like nursing homes, student dorms and schools.

The influenza virus may be transmitted three ways:
  1. Direct transmission: when an infected person sneezes directly into the eyes, nose or mouth of another person;
  2. Hand to eye, hand to nose, or hand to mouth transmission either from a contaminated surface or direct contact, such as shaking hands;
  3. Airborne route: when a person inhales the airborne spray produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
To stop the spread of the flu, you must stop the chain of infection.

Prevention methods, in addition to the flu vaccine, include:
  • practice cough etiquette -cover your nose and when you cough or sneeze;
  • practice hand hygiene - wash hands often with soap and water;
  • use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available;
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as this is how germs are spread;
  • try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you develop the flu or illness that you feel is serious, please contact your medical provider.

The 22nd Medical Group's appointment line is (316) 759-6300 (commercial) or 743-6300 (DSN). The clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The clinic is closed on Federal Holidays, down days and every third Friday of the month at noon for training.

Visit the CDC's website to find out more about the 2012-2013 flu season or contact the 22nd MDG Public Health office at (316) 759- 5167 (commercial) or 759-5167 (DSN).