Flu life-or-death issue

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Oh, itís just a touch of the flu; get some rest and drink plenty of liquids.

Donít bother getting a shot, besides, donít they contain mercury?

One can spend hours arguing with strangers on social media, but the topic takes on sober urgency when itís a life-or-death issue.

That time has arrived.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reported that a child recently died of flu in Central Nebraska.

That child is among 30 nationally who have died from flu this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu activity started earlier than usual this year, and continues to circulate at very high levels, said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist.

ďDuring a severe flu season, we see more illness, hospitalizations and sadly, more deaths,Ē Safranek said.

In addition to the child, 21 Nebraska adults have died from the flu, according to the DHHS.

Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu, prescribed by a health care provider, should be used as early as possible in people who have a flu-like illness, Safranek said.

For those who arenít sick, preventive measures along with flu vaccine can help prevent flu and other winter illnesses.

Some of the steps you should take:

* Wash your hands often

* Avoid contact with people who are sick

* Stay home from work, family gatherings and social functions if youíre sick

* Cover your mouth and nose when you cough with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands

* Eat healthily and get plenty of rest

* Donít smoke

Vaccination isnít a sure-fire prevention, but it can reduce flu-related illnesses, visits to the doctor, missed work and school, and flu-related hospitalization.

The CDC recommends flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

While flu can make anyone sick, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications, and itís extremely important they receive the vaccine and itís not too late to be vaccinated.

They include:

* Young children

* Adults 65 years of age or older

* Pregnant women

* People with chronic lung disease (like asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions and certain other long-term health conditions

* Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

For more flu information, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/flu or the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu.

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