published: Sunday, January 13, 2013
Flu season mild so far in Highlands
By BARRY FOSTER
SEBRING - Although the influenza season has been raging across the state of Florida as well as the rest of the nation, local officials say it does not appear to be too bad here as of yet.
"We really haven't had that many cases," said Highlands County Health Department public information officer Tom Moran.
While flu season generally peaks during the months of January and February, Moran said it actually got an early start. While it has been termed "mild" here, across the Sunshine State authorities report the flu has been widespread.
The Florida Department of Health's latest numbers were released in their online publication, titled "The Florida Flu Review." The last report came from late last month and Moran said Highlands has continued to be relatively flu-free.
"The numbers haven't really increased that much, and that's a good thing," he said.
Moran attributed the higher numbers in other areas of the state to denser populations, where people are closer together for greater periods of time
The predominate virus this year has been designated as H3N2 but that's not the only one making the rounds.
"Every year you also get the previous strains as well - that includes the H1N1," he said.
The H1N1 is better known as the "swine flu," but Moran said it does not pose the same threat as it did several years ago when it claimed several lives - including a couple here in Highlands County.
The most recent incarnation of the flu is much the same as past seasons with symptoms including:
- a 100-degree F or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)
- a cough and/or sore throat
- a runny or stuffy nose
- headaches and/or body aches
- nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
When it comes to warding off illness, Moran said residents should go to the old standbys - regular washing of hands with soap and water, covering one's mouth when they sneeze or cough and most importantly, if people do get the flu - stay home and don't infect people at work.
"Hopefully if they do those things we can get through the season without any serious problems," he said.
In the meantime, Moran said health officials continue to encourage people to get flu shots. He warned that it still takes about two weeks to build up immunity to the virus. He noted that getting a shot should not pose any big problem.
"There hasn't been a big run and there's no shortage reported as there has been in some other states," he said.
Nevertheless, Moran had no numbers on how many shots have been administered locally, noting that reports to local health departments by physisicans or others administering the vaccine are not required.
According to the Center for Disease Control, influenza activity is increasing nationwide and is most elevated in the eastern half of the country. In Florida, Division of Health officials said they had found that influenza-like ilness, or ILI was most prevalent in the Panhandle, Central, and South Florida regions which showed higher than expected activity in emergency departments.
He indicates he is in the process of trying to facilitate a press conference featuring local health officials as well as representatives of Florida Hospital Heartland Medical Center and Highland Regional Medical Center - but such a gathering remains in the planning stages.
Flu (by: Citizen - 1/15/2013)
Unfortunately there are a lot of unreported cases. I just got over it and no one but family and friends/work even knew I had it. I have known of 3 people hospitalized with pneumonia which started out as the flu. So numbers can be deceiving. We had 3 family members with it in our household alone, all unreported.
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