Flu is spreading across Arizona, and it is not too late to get the flu vaccine. The most likely strain of influenza this year is the H1N1 virus. The vaccine protects against the strain, but will take two weeks to become completely effective. The Arizona Department of Health is recommending vaccination since they have seen a fifty percent increase in flu cases this week.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. Influenza can range from mild to serious in its symptoms. Although many cases do not result in hospitalization, some cases have resulted in death. The best way to avoid getting the seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.
In Pima County alone, there have been a reported 520 confirmed cases of the flu. It is considered to be “widespread” at this time, which is the highest category, yet the flu season has not hit its peak. Pima County Health Department Epidemiology Program Director, Michael Acoba, says that the season can last well into March or early April.
It was reported Wednesday that a total of 2,424 cases were confirmed for the state.
At hospitals across Arizona, visitors are restricted to those who are healthy and are not experiencing any flu-like symptoms, to stop the flu from spreading. Hospital patients who may have weakened immune systems, are a vulnerable group. Masks are always welcome, if there is any doubt. Healthcare workers and others employed in hospitals are required to receive the annual flu vaccine, because they are in direct contact with patients. Food service employees who deliver trays of food for instance, must be vaccinated to stay employed.
In Tucson, city officials are concerned about their citizens, because soon there will be international visitors to the Gem and Mineral Show. Acoba is warning residents that with thousands of people from all over the US and the world coming to the event, there are going to be all kinds of germs brought into Pima County.
If a person becomes sick and starts coughing and sneezing, it is possible they are experiencing the start of the flu. It can be accompanied by a fever, and the flu victim may have aches and pains. Typically, flu makes one weak and fatigued for two to three weeks. The difference between a cold and flu is the intensity. With the flu, symptoms are much more intense.
Some people are allergic to eggs and there are supplies of egg-free vaccines at pharmacies. A call ahead to the drugstore would be recommended, to make sure the right vaccines are in stock.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), works with the states to assist in getting vaccination events to the community. The CDC has all kinds of information and specific reports, for each flu season. People who want to know how many cases of flu there are in a particular city, can go to the CDC website.
Flu is now widespread in Arizona, so getting vaccinated right away is a good solution to keeping the numbers down.
By Lisa M Pickering
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson News Now