Take measures to prevent flu

(01-15-2013)

Vaccines available

The Alamosa County Public Health Department reports influenza-like-illness has increased across Colorado in recent days, including the San Luis Valley. Local providers report they are seeing "a lot of people with flu symptoms."

Typical symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

People who have not yet received flu vaccine during this flu season are urged to do so. San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center (SLVRMC) Physician Services and Valley Wide Health Systems (VWHS) both report they still have flu vaccine available on a walk-in basis for most children and adults.

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age, but some people are at higher risk of developing complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and young children.

Most people who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.

Influenza has become widespread in Colorado earlier than in recent years. The predominant strain found in testing in Colorado was influenza B from late October through mid-December. In the last two weeks, however, testing has shown predominantly influenza A. Health officials recommend yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses, for everyone over the age of six months.

Germs like flu viruses can spread easily in places where many people are in close contact with one another, like schools, workplaces, and mass gatherings. Consider limiting your participation to decrease your likelihood of being exposed to flu.

Take these everyday actions to stop the spread of flu:

  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or by coughing or sneezing into your upper sleeve.
  • Throw the tissue in the trash and immediately wash your hands.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. When soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be helpful.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be a source of germs, such as door handles, phones, etc.