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posted on November 15, 2012 11:57

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         Date: Nov. 15, 2012

Contact:  Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0693

Influenza activity on the rise in southwestern Idaho

Health officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare are already reporting early cases of influenza in schools and long-term care facility residents in Southwest Idaho.

Because influenza can be particularly severe in children and those over 65 years of age, public health officials are recommending that everyone, especially people in schools and long-term care facilities, who hasn’t yet gotten a flu vaccination should visit a drop-in clinic, pharmacy, or call their healthcare provider and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

“We are receiving the first reports of influenza illnesses in the state, which is a little bit earlier than last year,” says Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Leslie Tengelsen. “With the approaching holidays and planned family gatherings, we strongly urge people to get vaccinated now to protect themselves and their loved ones.” 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year. Getting the vaccine is very important, particularly for people at high risk for serious flu complications and anyone they come into close contact with. Infants, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, and people 65 and older should get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.  

“It appears the circulating strains of influenza in the U.S. match the components of this year’s vaccine, so it should provide good protection,” Tengelsen says.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects 5-20% of people every year. Symptoms include fever, headache and fatigue. Complications can lead to more serious illnesses, including death. One of the most serious flu-related complications is bacterial pneumonia because of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, another vaccine-preventable respiratory illness. Anyone over the age of 65 and those with certain chronic illnesses or a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of serious bacterial pneumonia and should receive a pneumonia shot at least once. The pneumonia shot can be given at the same time as the flu shot.  Talk to your healthcare provider to determine which vaccines are right for you.

The influenza virus and other respiratory illnesses usually spread person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. People are urged to:

  • Cover their mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent infecting other people. Avoid people who appear sick.
  • Stay home from work when sick.
  • Wash their hands frequently, especially after being out in the public. Avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth until they have washed their hands.
  • Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, eat nutritious foods and take part in physical activity to stay healthy.

To find a clinic near you, visit http://www.flu.gov/. For information about influenza and how to stay healthy, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu. For information about bacterial pneumonia and how to stay healthy, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/streppneum_t.htm