MONTGOMERY – Influenza activity levels are increasing across the state of Alabama, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), which said several positive influenza (flu) specimens in north Alabama have been reported in the previous three weeks. 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. Flu is a very contagious respiratory illness. Some of the symptoms of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue.
Numbers are on the rise here in Cullman County.
“We have seen a substantial increase over the past seven days,” said Cullman Regional’s Executive Director, Marketing and Public Relations Lindsey Dossey, on Monday. “Positive flu tests have increased from four per week to 30 per week.”
"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 for the ADPH. "This is concerning because influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, even children, pregnant women, and previously healthy young adults."
The ADPH said 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 Landers.
Contact your private provider, pharmacy or local county health department to receive an influenza vaccination. For more information contact the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health at 334-206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599, and visit alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization.
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