Thursday, December 28, 2017 6:02 PM

Flu season started early – here's how to protect yourself

Our hospital infection control team and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) report that flu season has arrived early – the earliest it’s started in seven years. And because it’s early, it may last longer and be deadlier than previous years.

Influenza arrived early at our hospitals and across the U.S.

According to Shawn Elkin, RN and Infection Prevention Supervisor at Community Regional Medical Center, both Clovis Community and Community Regional are seeing a rise in patients coming to our emergency departments and being admitted with influenza-like-illness and/or confirmed influenza lab test results.

Elkin also confirmed that California is reporting moderate influenza-like-illness rates with widespread activity. Nationally, the rates of influenza exceed the national baseline and it appears that we are getting the earliest start to the flu season compared to the past 7 years of seasonal monitoring.
But we aren’t considering this year’s flu season an epidemic yet. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, only 6.2% of flu cases are deadly (compared to an epidemic rate of 7.4%)

Now is the time to be vigilant about looking for flu symptoms and getting serious about taking steps to protect yourself from the virus.

Signs you might have the flu

The flu can be sneaky. People can be contagious even before showing symptoms.It usually takes about four days after you inhale for the flu virus to hit – and the symptoms can be harsh.

Here are some of the most common flu symptoms:
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Moderate-to-high fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Severe muscle and body aches
  • Extreme fatigue

Sometimes complications happen just when you’re starting to feel a bit better. These secondary problems could be a severe sinus infection, ear infection, pneumonia or heart problems.

And yes, people do die from the flu – even with modern medicine. Children, older folks and those with other health issues are most at risk. In fact, the CDC estimates in a bad year flu-associated deaths reach 49,000 in the U.S.

How to protect yourself from the flu

It’s time to get serious about protecting yourself and your family. Our hospital infection control team and the CDC recommend the following actions to keep yourself healthy through flu season.