CCHD offers tips for avoiding the flu

Posted at 1:38 PM, Feb 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-07 23:22:38-05

According to recent flu occurrence data from the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), Montana is one of 45 states experiencing a high rate of flu-like illnesses.

The CDC estimates that so far this season across the nation, there have been at least 22 million flu illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths from flu. The large number of reported Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) cases like these has some people worried.

However, the City-County Health Department in Great Falls says that Cascade County has one of the lowest rates of flu infection in Montana.

CCHD public health nurse Tom Lambert said, “At present, for really no specific reason, we haven’t seen the high volume [of ILI cases].”

Lambert also stressed that it's beneficial to take preventive measures such as getting the flu shot, as both flu strains and the vaccines used to treat them change each year.

“The nature of flu is that it’s a highly mutating virus...what happens with the vaccine in relation is that it takes some time from the vaccine being manufactured and when the full flu season hits,” Lambert said.

CCHD offers tips for avoiding the flu

Lambert added that although vaccinations might not prevent a person from becoming infected with the flu, they can diminish the infection’s severity.

“The non-immunized tend to be the ones most impacted by the flu,” Lambert said. "Ultimately we’re worried about dying from the flu so that’s something to think about. The flu shot may not prevent you from being infected, but it certainly can prevent you from dying from the flu.”

Children and older adults are also more likely to be infected with the flu than other age groups. For that reason, Lambert recommends seeking medical attention, if the following symptoms appear:

  • Aches
  • Fever over 102 degrees
  • Sweats
  • Other symptoms accompanied by nausea and vomiting

He also advises that anyone aged 6 months and older should get a flu shot at some point throughout the year, as influenza can be contracted year-round.

“Flu is an all-year-long illness. We see it concentrated into what we consider the flu season, generally October to March. But we do get reports of flu throughout the year, just not in near the numbers as we do in this time of year,” Lambert said.

The CDC website provides more information about the flu, including the following tips for avoiding the flu:

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.

OCTOBER 25, 2019: