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Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Medical | By Garry George

'Atypical' flu season causing outbreaks at care homes

'Atypical' flu season causing outbreaks at care homes

According to Audrain County's health department, there have been 260 confirmed cases of the flu all together from October 1 to January 12.

The flu arrived early this year in the United States, and health officials say Americans from the West Coast to the East Coast can expect several more weeks of flu season.

Experts say the flu shot may be only 30% effective this year, but can still reduce the severity of symptoms for people who get the flu.

Perkins said regardless of whether you get the vaccine from the health district, local healthcare provider or pharmacy, the vaccine is the best defense in managing the flu and protecting others from getting it.

"Flu is widespread and elevated in LA County", said Dr. Sharon Balter, director of Acute Communicable Disease Control.

In Florida, health officials have reported a rise in flu activity, including two child deaths, over the past several weeks, with the northern regions of the state seeing higher incidence of illness.

But while no one disputes this is a bad year for flu, Jernigan said it's too early to tell if this flu season is more severe than recent seasons, including the 2014-2015 season.

Jernigan said clinicians should still give antivirals to patients, especially young children or older adults, at the first sign of suspected flu and not wait until laboratory confirmation.

Because the flu is so bad this season, Chen says health professionals are doing things a bit differently this year.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: Fever* or feeling feverish/chills; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue (tiredness).

The main flu strain circulating this season called influenza A (H3N2).

While the flu and common cold are respiratory illnesses that share some symptoms, you should be aware of the differences to protect yourself and your family. We're up at 5.8% [of all patient visits attributed to the flu], which is a slight increase from last week.

In fact, we've heard of one care home dealing with a triple outbreak right now - both types of flu, plus a gastrointestinal bug.

It's also important to take other actions to stay healthy such as covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer or keep your germs contained by staying home when sick. For the first time in 13 years - for as long as they have been monitoring flu activity in this particular way - this is the first time we have seen nearly the same activity across the country.

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