It's that time of year again…the dreaded flu season! The season typically runs from October- May, however, in the past two years, late January and early February have had significant increases in confirmed cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This season there has been 1,407 people that have tested positive so far in Arizona, and 149 confirmed cases in Pima County alone. Experts say those numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks. They also point out those numbers are only people that went to the doctor and got a lab confirmation it was indeed the flu, so there are likely many more sick people.
The US Centers for Disease and Prevention says it's still not too late to get a flu shot, although it is better to get the vaccine early, it still has potential benefits getting it now. It is most crucial for the elderly, the very young, chronically ill and pregnant women, as they are the most vulnerable. The dominant flu strain continues to be H3N2, which often affects the youngest and the oldest, the harshest. Just this past week there have been 2 more pediatric deaths, bringing the total to 5 this season.
With the numbers increasing and only midway through the season, here are a few tips to avoid getting and or spreading the virus:
- Get vaccinated ASAP if you have not already
- Wash hands and surfaces frequently. (If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based product)
- Stay home when you are sick
- Avoid close contact with others
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread by touching something contaminated then touching his or her eye, nose or mouth.
Also, keep in mind the top ranked “germiest places” to avoid during flu season are; Bank ATMS, Community pens, other people's hands, your cellphone and gas pumps. By following a few basic tips from above, hopefully you and your loved ones can have a healthy “flu free”, flu season!