POMEROY — The flu season has arrived, and it won’t be departing anytime soon.
That’s the word from the U. S. Center for Disease Control.
Now if you are young and healthy the flu may just make you feel lousy for a week or two, miss some work and spread the infection to some of your favorite people. However, it’s a different story if you are elderly or have medical problems, and didn’t get a flu shot.
A flu shot, according to the Center for Disease Control, has a benefit of about 59 percent protection from getting sick.
It is still not too late to get the shot, according to Leeanne Cunningham, director of nurses at the Meigs County Health Department. However, at this time the agency has a limited amount of vaccine available and even after receiving the shot she said it takes about two weeks before becoming effective.
Today (Tuesday) flu shots are being given at the Health Department during a walk-in immunization clinic from 9 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Otherwise they are given, assuming vaccine is still available, by appointment.
As to the scope of infection in the county, Cunningham said there apparently is a lot of illness around, but all they have is hearsay about numbers at this time. She did say that, according to a report from the Ohio Disease Reporting System, four Meigs Countians diagnosed with the influenza virus have been hospitalized.
Meigs Local Superintendent Rusty Bookman reported that school attendance is about average, 92 to 95 percent, and that indicates to him that the flu problem is not affecting many of the children in the district. However, he did say that in late December attendance dropped to the high 80s but has now bounced back.
The Health Department reports “the number one step to prevent catching the flu or other communicable diseases is hand washing. Frequently washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water will reduce your risk for getting sick.”
Cunningham listed as symptoms of flu fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue and for some people vomiting and diarrhea. She noted that the most common complication from flu is pneumonia. Flu germs are transmitted primarily through direct person-to-person contact, she said, and advised that a good way to avoid getting the flu is to stay away from sick people.
She also suggests that anyone with a respiratory illness, like flu, cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze to block the spread of droplets that contain the germs.
However if you do get the flu there are antiviral drugs that can treat your illness. This type of medication is not available over-the-counter so you will need a prescription, but antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They are most effective when started within two days of getting sick, though starting them later can still be helpful, especially for those with high risk conditions. Early treatment is especially important for people who are at high risk of flu complications.
According to the most recent report from the Ohio Department of Health there have been 1,922 flu-related hospitalizations in the state so far this season.