Flu Facts: What you need to know to get through this flu season

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Get the vaccine, avoid contact with sick people - stay home if you are ill - and clean everything.

That's the advice from the area health professionals, who said Thursday that the number of flu-like cases reported in the region nearly doubled last week. And flu season still has several weeks to go.

The announcement was released by the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department, Ascension's Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare.

"To stop the spread of the flu in our community, we all need to do our part," said Dr. Richard VanEnk, director of infection prevention at Bronson Healthcare. "We can’t stress enough how important it is for people to stay home if they are sick. Children who are ill should be kept home from school, and not sent back before the infection is cleared.”

William Nettleton, medical director of the Kalamazoo County health department said the cases reporting during the week ending Jan. 26, 2018, nearly doubled the number reported during the previous week.

"Currently, the dominant virus being reported is Influenza A,” Nettleton said.

The three agencies pointed to the top three flu-fighting tactics recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

1. Get a flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine. Receiving the vaccine early is the first and most important step in protection against the flu. It is not too late to receive the vaccine, and residents are strongly encouraged to do so. As of Jan. 26, 35 percent of Kalamazoo County children between the ages of 6 months to 18 years received the flu vaccine.
2. Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you become sick, limit your contact with others. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands well and often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. If you are a caretaker for someone with the flu, wash your hands after touching the sick person and after handling their tissues or laundry.
3. Create and maintain a healthy home and work environment. The flu virus can survive on surfaces for up to 24 hours. Clean hard surfaces more often than usual and disinfect shared things like remote controls and computer keyboards. In shared environments make disposable disinfectant wipes available to encourage users to wipe down “high-touch” objects such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, remote controls, keyboards, and telephones before each use.

“The number of patients hospitalized with influenza in Michigan is at an all-time high,” said David Davenport, medical director of infection prevention and control at Borgess Health. “Even in settings where it offers partial protection, the influenza vaccination significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization and other serious complications including death. We owe it to ourselves, our coworkers, our families and our community to limit the spread of this particularly virulent strain of influenza.”

Other flu facts:

Flu or the cold?

Wondering whether it's really the flu, or just the common cold? Check out this chart from the CDC.

Myth or reality

Some of the advice, is well, just a myth, so check out the video "Debunking Flu Myths."

Get the vaccine

Find flu vaccination clinics through the VaccineFinder website.

Check with your primary care physician.

Visit a Kalamazoo County health department immunization clinic at 3299 Gull Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49048

Flu warnings

Ready the announcement released Thursday, below.

Other flu resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prevent Seasonal Flu

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Frequently Asked Flu Questions for 2017-18 Influenza Season

Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, Information on Vaccines for Children

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