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Flu season taking its toll locally

Although school was cancelled on Monday for the Excelsior Springs School District due to below-zero temperatures, it won’t be long before the halls at the elementary, middle and high schools are filled with students and their germs will be right there with them.

Karmen Olberding, APRN-BC, FNP, at Mosaic Life Care in Excelsior Springs said it’s still not too late to help prevent the spread of influenza by getting a flu shot now.  Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.  It can cause mild to severe illness.  Olberding added that the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year.

As students head back to school and the holiday break has ended for most people in the workforce, it is easy to spread the flu to others within six feet of one another.  Most flu experts think that droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk is what mainly spreads the virus.  Most importantly, experts say to cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue and wash your hands often with soap and water.

“We have seen an increase in patients coming in with the flu compared to last year,” said Olberding.  “And since flu season lasts the same amount of time every year, there is still time to get vaccinated.”

The timing of flu activity commonly peaks in the United States in January and February.  However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue through May.

Clay County Health Department representatives said that people infected with the flu could be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms even develop and lasting up to five or even seven days after someone becomes sick.  That is why the CCHD said that while sick, it is important to limit contact with others as much as possible to avoid spreading the flu.

If you or your child become sick with flu-like illness, the CCHD recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care and that the fever should be gone without using fever-reducing medicine.

People who have the flu will often have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.  In some cases those infected may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than in adults.

Health departments across the state of Missouri have continued to see a rise in influenza cases and recommend everyone over the age of six months get a flu shot.  Contact your local health provider for details about the flu vaccine.

By Jae Juarez • jae@leaderpress.com

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