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Light Flu Activity Continues As Season Nears End

Armen Hareyan's picture

Nine new influenza cases were confirmed via positive lab cultures in the past two weeks, bringing the total number of lab-confirmed cases for the season to 41, compared to 276 reported by this time last year.

  • Ten "suspected" cases were identified in the past two weeks through positive rapid antigen tests, bringing the number of such cases this season is 135, compared to 332 by this time last year. These cases don't meet the state's case definition for confirmed influenza, which requires a positive lab culture. Suspected cases aren't included in the tally of confirmed influenza, but are monitored as an indicator of possible influenza activity.

  • Many people who get sick do not seek treatment or may not be tested. Thus, not all flu cases are identified or confirmed through testing. This means it's possible others may have an illness caused by the flu virus but are not reported. For every confirmed case, hundreds of others may go uncounted.

  • The flu vaccine protects against three strains of influenza virus circulating this season -- Type A/New Caledonia, Type A/Wisconsin and Type B/Malaysia. It is recommended for certain high-risk groups: children from 6 months to five years of age; pregnant women; people 50 years of age and older; people 5 to 49 years of age with chronic medical conditions; people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities; household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than six months of age; household contacts of persons in the priority groups; and health care workers.

Health Department Flu Shot Clinic

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Oakland, 3441 Forbes Avenue, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Wednesdays, 1 to 8 p.m. No appointment necessary. Flu shots are a covered benefit for people with Medicare Part B who are not in an HMO and permitted to get vaccine from any Medicare-approved provider. The shots are $25 for others.

Influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection, characterized by a sudden and rapid onset of fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, and extreme fatigue. The illness usually is not life-threatening in most healthy people under age 65. However, anyone experiencing these symptoms, especially the elderly, children under two, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions, should contact their doctor for medical advice and treatment.

WARNING: Do not give aspirin to flu-sick children under 19 years of age because it may trigger a potentially fatal disease called Reye's Syndrome.

Ways to fight the flu: Wash your hands often, with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Avoid people who are sick. Stay home from work and school when you are sick. Keep your distance from others when you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throw it away immediately. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching any objects or surfaces that might be contaminated.

What to do if you get sick: If you are otherwise in good health, get plenty of rest, drink a lot of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Take medications to relieve the symptoms, but never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, especially fever, without first talking to your doctor. If your symptoms are unusually severe, for example, you are having difficulty breathing, consult your health care provider right away. If you are at special risk from complications, consult your health care provider when your flu symptoms begin. This includes people 65 or older, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and children under five. Certain prescription drugs may be used to lessen the severity and duration of the illness if taken within 24 to 48 hours of onset of symptoms.