The Mineral County Health Department warns that it’s the start of flu season again, which begins in October and November. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were an estimated 7,935 cases of influenza in Montana last year with 16 reported in Mineral County. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Illness can range from mild to severe, and serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or even death.
Children under 5 years old, especially those under 2, are at a higher risk for flu-related complications. Also those over the age of 65, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes or long-term care, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease are also at a higher risk. Additionally, this year the age recommendation for “Fluarix Quadrivalent” was changed from 3 years old and older, to 6 months and older. Also, the age recommendation for “Afluria Quadrivalent” was changed from 18 years old and older to 5 years old and older
People with the flu can spread it to others up to six feet away when coughing, sneezing or talking. Additionally, a person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching his or her own mouth, nose or eyes.
People are most contagious in the first three to four days after symptoms begin; however, the virus can be passed before symptoms appear.
In addition to getting a flu shot, people can help prevent getting sick by avoiding close contact with others who are sick and if they become sick, avoid contact with others. When possible, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone. Also, people should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand rub if washing is not available.
If an individual does get the flu, the prescription medicine called antiviral drugs, can be used to treat it. These drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time that someone is ill.
The Mineral County Health Department will be the offering Flu Shot Clinics at the following locations:
* Alberton High School, Tuesday Oct. 2, 4 to 5:30 p.m.
* DeBorgia School House, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
* St. Regis School, Wednesday, Oct. 3rd, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
* Superior High School, Thursday, Oct. 4, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.