Influenza hits community hardPublished 12:00pm Friday, January 4, 2013
Freeborn County Public Health officials are asking community members to take precautions against influenza after an increase of flu-like symptoms were reported this week at Albert Lea’s medical center.
“It’s not too late to get vaccinated, and there is plenty of vaccine available at many different venues,” said Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost.
Influenza is spread through coughing and sneezing by those who have the virus.
Symptoms of influenza include a cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue and sometimes a fever, diarrhea and vomiting.
The Freeborn County Public Health Department has advised anyone 6 months and older to get vaccinated annually. People should also cover their cough to prevent spreading germs, wash their hands often and avoid being exposed to others who are sick with a flu-like illness.
According to a news release, serious complications of the flu can occur in the elderly, people with chronic health conditions and children under 5. Thus far this season, three people have died from flu complications in Minnesota, and health officials are predicting this could be one of the worst flu seasons in years in the state.
Yost said Minnesota has had a mild flu season since 2008 and in most years the first cases aren’t reported until Thanksgiving.
This year, the first cases were reported in October — at least a full month ahead of schedule — so more people are getting sick earlier than in typical years.
People with flu symptoms should stay home, rest and drink lots of fluids, according to the release. It is recommended to stay home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care. The health department also advised people with flu symptoms to stay away from others as much as possible to avoid making others sick and to take flu antiviral medications if prescribed by a doctor.
People should seek immediate medical attention with their doctor or in the emergency room for children if they exhibit any of the following warning signs:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing.
• Bluish skin color.
• Not drinking enough fluids.
• Not waking up or not interacting.
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.
• Having a fever with a rash.
• If flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
Adults should seek medical attention if they have difficulty breathing or a shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting.
To contact the Freeborn County Public Health Office, call 377-5100.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Flu shot clinic
When: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10
Where: Freeborn Room, Freeborn County Courthouse
Who: Ages 3 and older
Cost: Bring Medicare or Medical Assistance cards; otherwise, $30 each