Flu currently is spreading in our area and across the state. As of Thursday, Jan 25, five Buncombe County residents have died this month of complications from the flu. All were older than 60 years of age, but flu can have serious health consequences even for young, healthy people. Prevention and quick action are key to avoid getting and spreading the flu in our community.
Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) would like to remind residents of these important and simple steps that can provide a shield of protection against the flu:
- Get Immunized: The number one recommended way to prevent flu is to get immunized. It’s not too late to get your flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older. You should also stay up-to-date on all immunizations to prevent the spread of other illnesses.
- Practice Good Health Habits: Frequent handwashing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, can help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses. Avoid touching your face or mouth with your hands.
- Stay Home from School or Work When Sick: Anyone with symptoms of flu should stay home from school, work or other group activities to prevent spreading the illness to others. The symptoms of flu usually start suddenly and most commonly include fever, chills, muscle or body aches, feeling very tired and weak, cough, and headache. Once infected with the flu, you can spread it to others as soon as 1 day before you get sick through 7 days after you get sick.
- Seek appropriate medical care: If you become ill with symptoms of the flu, contact your primary care provider or visit an urgent care clinic. Rapid treatment (within 48 hours of the start of flu symptoms) with antiviral drugs is especially important as a second line of defense against the flu this year. People aged 65 or older, those with certain chronic medical conditions (like asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women, and children under age 5 years are at high risk of developing serious flu-related illnesses if they get sick, so it is important that their health care provider is informed of their illness right away. Please avoid the emergency department unless you have signs and symptoms of severe illness (see below), as it can expose you to other illnesses and exposes others to your illness.
- Know the signs and symptoms of severe flu-related illness:
In infants and children:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
- Has no tears when crying
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
For information on immunizations in Buncombe County: www.buncombecounty.org/vaccine