It’s officially flu season in Kentucky with the disease recently being declared as “widespread” by the state health department, but Logan County doesn’t appear to be hard hit - yet.
“We’re surrounded by places that are though,” said Terry Crafton, a board cetified emergency room physician at Logan Memorial Hospital. “Nashville and Clarksville and Owensboro are all being hit pretty hard and in some places have had to close schools because of the flu. In Logan County in particular, we are still sporatic, but it’s starting to get a little more steady.”
Crafton said that it’s common to see the flu steadily ramping up in a community before it becomes a widespread problem.
If you come down with the flu, the first thing you’ll probably notice is a high fever with all the usual aches and chills that goes along with it.
“The first sign is usually you go from not sick to suddenly having a high fever of 103 or 104 degrees - it’s one of the highest fevers and adult will get,” Crafton said. “And then the cough, sore throat and headache will start after that.”
If you think you have the flu, the best thing to do is get to a doctor as soon as possible. Tamiflu is the only medicine useful in combating the disease.
“Tamiflu is much more helpful in the first 48 hours after the first symptoms start,” Crafton said. “We will administer it up to five days after symptoms start, but beyond that it has no effect.”
The only other thing to do is wait out the disease and treat the fevers with ibuprofin and/or tylenol, while drinking plenty of fluids.
There are two main types of flu - the A strain and the B strain. One is more associated with stomach sickness, while the other has more of the fever with cough and sore throat.
“We’re seeing both in pretty equal numbers,” Crafton said.
Since the flu is highly contagious, there is little a person can do to ward it off outside of a flu shot.
“The only way to avoid the flu is to stay away from people,” Crafton said. “But the flu vaccine is a highly effective way to keep from getting it.”
It’s highly recommended to get a flu shot before the flu season kicks in, but it’s not too late now.
“It takes between a week and two weeks, to fully work,” Crafton said. But we’ll be seeing flu through March, so it’s still a good idea to get one if you haven’t already. Just because you don’t catch it in the first wave, doesn’t mean you won’t get it in February.”
Logan Memorial Hospital has taken several steps in anticipation of an influx of patients suffering from seasonal flu. Visitors with a cough, fever, sore throat, body aches or other flu-like symptoms are asked not to visit patients. Patients presenting to the hospital for care are required to visit a respiratory etiquette station before proceeding throughout the facility. Respiratory etiquette stations have been set up in the Main Lobby, ED waiting and the Surgery Center waiting areas. The stations consist of hand sanitizer, mask, and tissues.
“The flu virus is definitely present in Logan County. The number of cases presenting to the hospital has been sporadic, but increasing in frequency. Certainly the best defense is good hand hygiene and be vaccinated”, said Joyce Noe, RN and Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Logan Memorial Hospital.
What is Influenza?
The flu can cause a wide range of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting, though this is more common in children than adults. The severity of flu varies from person to person.
1. How does flu spread?
The flu virus is spread mainly from person to person through the respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
2. How can someone with the flu infect someone else?
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass the flu to someone before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. If you have the flu take note of the following precautions to speed your recovery as well as to avoid contaminating others:
1. Stay at home for 7 days after your symptoms appear or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer, except to seek medical care.
2. Get plenty of rest.
3. Drink clear fluids.
4. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands often, especially after using tissues or coughing into your hand. Remember that some viruses and bacteria can live on surfaces like doorknobs and furniture for up to 2 hours.
5. Wear a facemask if sharing common areas with family members.
6. Avoid close contact with others – do not go to work or school when ill.
7. Check with your healthcare provider about whether you should take antiviral medications.
8. Seek emergency care immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
• difficulty breathing or chest pain
• purple or blue discoloration of the lips
• vomiting to the point of being unable to keep liquids down
• signs of dehydration, such as dizziness when standing, absence of urination or in infants, lack of tears when crying
For more information on the flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at www.cdc.gov.