“Flu is definitely here,” said Heather Rasmussen, Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) executive director of care integration.
CCMH is seeing an average of six new flu cases each day with a total of 155 as of last week.
“We’re seeing (influenza) A and B and we can tell that it’s switching over to the B strain,” Rasmussen said.
“January/February seems to be the heavy hitting season and I think we’re there. It will probably continue to get a little worse before it starts to get better.”
This year’s flu can last 10 to 14 days with a cough that can continue for weeks afterward, she said.
The course of treatment at CCMH can include antiviral medications, depending on how early individuals with flu get to a clinic.
Of the 155 people treated for the flu at CCMH, 74 percent had not received the flu vaccine shot.
Rasmussen said a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that this year’s flu shot is only about 58 percent effective against the B strain.
Getting the flu shot is still worthwhile, she said.
“You can still get the flu even though you’ve had the flu shot,” Rasmussen said. “You probably won’t get as sick and you might be able to get over it a little sooner than if you didn’t.”
She emphasized that individuals can’t get the flu from the flu vaccine, though many people think they can.
“That is a misconception,” she said.
Flu is life-threatening and should be treated as such.
According to the CDC, flu viruses spread mainly through tiny droplets made when individuals with flu cough, sneeze or talk.
The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
Individuals may also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
In addition to the vaccine, standard precautions are in order.
“Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands,” Rasmussen said. “Cover your cough, cover your sneeze. Use hand sanitizer if you can’t get to soap and water.”
Individuals with the flu should wear a mask to slow the spread of the virus.
“If you can, stay away from babies and our senior population during the time you have the flu,” Rasmussen said.
Individuals with the flu who continue to interact with others are “lovingly spreading the virus,” she said.