MASON COUNTY — Flu season is here, but departments are reporting lower numbers of positive cases than expected.
Jennifer Thomas, a registered nurse and administrator at the Mason County Health Department, said the positive influenza cases in Mason County are relatively low, and the numbers are staying consistent.
Thomas said that Pleasant Valley Hospital reported four Flu A and two Flue B cases from Nov. 18 to Nov. 25. They also had 19 influenza-like illnesses, which are cases when people have flu symptoms, but do not text positive for influenza.
The West Virginia Department of Heath and Human Resources is currently classifying the influenza activity as “local” on the scale of “no activity” to “widespread.” In the United States, 40.7 percent of states reported the same activity level.
“But with the holidays, everyone gets together,” Thomas said. “We went shopping and we were all in tight spaces.”
Thomas said she expects the number of flu cases to increase slightly with the holidays.
Although the flu season has already begun, Thomas said it is not too late to get your influenza vaccine. The Mason County Health Department is currently out of vaccines, but the local drug stores and physician offices are carrying them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognizing the week of Dec. 1 – 7 as National Influenza Vaccination Week. The CDC said even if you have put off getting your vaccine, it can still be beneficial during most of the season. If you have already gotten the flu this year, the vaccine can still protect you against another potential bout with the flu this season. Most flu vaccines protect against four different flu viruses, according to the CDC.
Thomas said if you have the flu, go to your physician to get a medication, such as Tamiflu, and then stay home to rest. Thomas said the sooner you are medicated, the faster the symptoms will go away.
According to the CDC, the flu can result in serious health complications — including pneumonia, bacterial infections, hospitalization and even death. People at particularly high risk include young children, pregnant women, adults over 65 years of age and people with chronic heath conditions.
To reduce your chances at getting the flu, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated, washing your hands, avoiding close contact with sick people, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.