Influenza activity beginning to pick up around Wyoming
Suggest common-sense measures can slow or prevent influenza’s spread
by Wyoming Department of Health
February 15, 2012
As they begin to see reports of increasing flu activity, Wyoming Department of Health representatives are encouraging residents to take common-sense steps to avoid influenza or spreading it to others.
According to Clay Van Houten, Wyoming Department of Health emerging diseases unit chief, influenza activity is picking up around the country, including in neighboring states. "In Wyoming, we’ve seen more reports of flu-like illness and flu cases recently with a few reported outbreaks in schools and healthcare facilities," he said.
Dr. Tracy Murphy, state epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, said influenza precautions are most effective before the illness becomes especially widespread in a community.
Basic common-sense measures can slow or prevent influenza’s spread. "Covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze and cough; frequently washing your hands; and staying home from work, school, day care and errands when you are ill can help," Murphy said.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches. Influenza can cause severe illness and complications, particularly among older people.
Murphy said, "If you do become ill, be sure to get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol or tobacco. You may also take medications to relieve your symptoms, but avoid giving products containing aspirin to children or teens with flu-like symptoms."
Doctors may recommend prescription antiviral medications to help treat influenza. Prescription antiviral medications may be especially helpful for persons at higher risk for complications from flu such as young children, adults 65 years of age or older, persons with chronic medical conditions, persons with altered immune systems, women who are pregnant or soon after delivery, persons less than 19 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy for other conditions, those who are extremely overweight, and residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities. "For antiviral medications to be a good option, it is important to seek medical care quickly," Murphy advised.
Flu vaccines are also still available in many locations. "I encourage folks who have not yet received the vaccine for this season to get vaccinated because it may still provide protection," Murphy said. "However, it takes up to two weeks for flu vaccines to offer effective protection. If you’re exposed to the flu virus during the interim you may still become ill with influenza, but it will not be caused by the vaccine."