Flu is widespread—time to take precautions
DAWSON–With reported cases of flu widespread in our area, it is important that Terrell County residents work together and take precautions to keep area families healthy, say Public Health officials.
“Respiratory infections spread more easily among children in schools,” said Terrell County Health Department County Nurse Manager Charlotte Law. “Families with school-age children tend to experience more infections.”
Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Charles Ruis added, “By keeping our children flu-free, our whole community benefits. Additionally, healthy students miss fewer days of school, which results in less stress on the family.”
The following tips can help keep your family healthy:
• Students and parents, especially those with chronic medical conditions, should get an annual flu shot if they haven’t already done so. It is not too late this flu season to get your child vaccinated. The benefit of a flu shot goes beyond the individual getting it. Once vaccinated, you are less likely to serve as a source of infection in your community.
• Keep children who are sick at home. Do not send them to school until they have been free of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen for 24 consecutive hours.
• Students who may have the flu should not participate in sports, choir or other activities that involve close contact.
• Teach your child to practice good health habits – washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds and sneezing or coughing into the inside of the elbow.
• Disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, toys and shared articles.
• If someone in your household gets the flu, a healthcare provider can prescribe a medication – called an antiviral – that may help shorten the length of the illness and the severity of the symptoms. The treatment, which is not a cure, must be started within the first 48 hours of flu onset.
• A provider may also prescribe an antiviral to family members to help prevent flu transmission to them if a household member is diagnosed with flu.
“It is often challenging to distinguish a common cold from influenza,” said Ruis. “Even trained health professionals must often rely on laboratory tests to make the call.”
Sore throats, nasal symptoms, and cough are common in both conditions. Abrupt onset, high fever, intense headache, body aches, and extreme fatigue are more consistent with influenza.
The symptoms can be similar for both conditions but the bottom line is that flu symptoms are generally more intense, Ruis said.
He also cautioned against giving children aspirin and products that contain aspirin. “Aspirin has been linked to a life-threatening liver condition known as Reyes Syndrome,” Ruis said. “Further, do not use children’s over-the-counter multi-drug cold and flu medications, which have been shown to offer little relief and may cause significant side effects.”
For more information about seasonal influenza, contact the Terrell County Health Department at 229-995-8435.