Increasing Flu Cases Upgrade State’s Flu Activity Level from “Regional” to “Widespread”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
February 25, 2009 Contact: William Gerrish
Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner today reminded residents to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from the flu as the department announced that flu activity in Connecticut has been on the rise statewide. The state’s national flu activity classification has been upgraded from “regional” to “widespread” due to the increase in activity.
“The single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu is to get vaccinated – either by the flu nasal spray or injection,” emphasized DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, MD, MPH, MBA. “People should talk to their doctor about getting a flu vaccination for themselves and other family members.”
“It is important that people take precautions to protect themselves from getting the flu or from spreading the flu to their loved ones if they have it,” said Dr. Galvin. “Simple steps like getting the flu shot, washing your hands frequently, practicing proper coughing etiquette and staying home when you’re sick can help protect you from getting the flu or spreading it to others.”
The most recent preliminary influenza activity report, which contains flu activity data through February 7, 2009, shows that after a slow start to the flu season, flu cases throughout the state have increased dramatically since the first week of January. The report shows that from February 1-7, there were 539 confirmed flu cases in the state, up from just 40 cases from January 4-10. Most of the flu cases this season have been concentrated in Fairfield and New Haven counties, however, the flu is present throughout the state.
Every year in the United States, on average, 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications, and about 36,000 people die from the flu. Persons with influenza usually experience a rapid onset of fever, chills, headache, and muscle ache followed by a runny nose, sore throat and cough, which is often severe and lasts for many days. Most persons with influenza recover within two to seven days.
The influenza season runs from October-May and individuals can continue to be vaccinated throughout the course of the flu season. Vaccines are encouraged for everyone, but especially for high-risk groups, including children from 6 months to 18 years of age, women who will be pregnant during the flu season, people at least 50 years old, anyone with certain chronic medical conditions and people who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. People interested in being vaccinated for the flu should contact their family physician, the DPH Immunization Program at (860) 509-7929, or the American Lung Association flu hotline available Mon-Friday 9am-3pm at 1-888-668-6358 (1-888-NO-TO-FLU).
Whether you receive a flu shot or not, there are some other steps you can take to avoid the flu this year and stay healthy:
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
· Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
· Cough into your upper sleeve or cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
· Seek care early. See your healthcare provider immediately if you develop flu symptoms; antiviral medications can help if taken early in the illness.
To learn more about seasonal influenza or to view the influenza activity report, visit the DPH website at www.ct.gov/dph. Under Featured Links, click “Seasonal Influenza.”
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.