Alabama experiences significant flu activity this season

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If you haven’t already gotten the flu shot yet, you may want to consider going out and getting one  —according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) influenza is on the rise across the Yellowhammer State.

While the flu season is just getting started in much of the country, activity is already elevated in Alabama with providers reporting 3.59 percent of outpatient visits due to influenza-like illness.

CDC Influenza map_week 50 2017

[Photo courtesy of the CDC]

Flu is a very contagious respiratory illness that usually comes on suddenly. Symptoms often include:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
    * Not everyone with flu will have a fever.

“Providers reporting increased percentages of patients with influenza-like illness and influenza samples sent to public health provide an indication of the geographic spread of influenza in Alabama,” said Dr. Karen Landers, District Medical Officer. “This is concerning because influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, even children, pregnant women, and previously healthy young adults.”

An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older and is the best prevention against getting the flu. Physicians, pharmacists and county health departments can provide flu vaccinations for Alabamians. Request the “quadrivalent vaccine,” the one that protects against four influenza strains, because one of the strains in circulation in Alabama (Type B/Yamagata) is only included in the quadrivalent vaccine.

In addition to taking the flu vaccine, other measures can reduce or prevent the spread of influenza. These include:

  • staying at home when sick;
  • covering the mouth and nose with a tissue/cloth when coughing or sneezing;
  • and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

“Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. It’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect against this serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine,” said Dr. Landers.

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