LEXINGTON, Ky. - Over the past couple of weeks, the flu numbers have jumped in area clinics and emergency rooms.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force / MGN
We knew this was coming and the numbers are suggesting a significant flu season. We have seen patients across the spectrum, from mild disease to life threatening infections.
Unfortunately, once you have the flu, the only option at that point is symptom management and support. The curve for this years flu season is mirroring the 2014-2015 season at this point, with rapid increases in cases earlier than last year.
What we can expect is continued increases over the next 4 to 6 weeks before we peak and start to decline. We will continue to see high numbers for the first 3 months of the year.
The flu is characterized by fever, severe muscle aches, neck pain, cough, and occasional nausea and vomiting. The highest risk for complications and death is for people over age 65, followed by adults 50-64 and then children under age 4.
Flu activity is widespread in much of the country with high activity in most states. The best defense we have is the vaccine. One strain is poorly covered this year, but the other 3 are pretty typical for any given season.
The vaccine may not completely protect you, but it does decrease the risk of catching the flu and likely decreases the severity if you do catch it.
More importantly, widespread vaccination helps protect those at higher risk for complications and those that are not old enough or have another reason they can’t get the vaccine.
Other prevention includes hand washing, thoroughly cleaning surfaces in the workplace and house, no sharing utensils, and staying clear of work, school, or gatherings when you are sick. So, get your vaccine and batten down the hatches for our winter flu season.