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Alabama flu emergency: How to protect yourself; is it too late to get a flu shot? - AL.com

January 12, 2018

This article was originally published on this site

A state of emergency has been issued in Alabama as the state health department reports significant increases in flu activity in many counties.

Increased flu activity has been reported in 44 of Alabama’s 67 counties, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health’s influenza surveillance map. The uptick has forced closures at several schools and delay of non-critical surgery at busy hospitals.

Alabama is experiencing widespread influenza (flu) activity, and hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms,” ADPH said. “Emergency departments and outpatient clinics are also seeing very high volumes of patients.”

Flu symptoms generally present themselves quickly and can include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.

How to avoid getting and spreading the flu

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Avoid close contact.
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. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches a surface or object that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects.
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu can help slow the spread of influenza.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

While the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine has been questioned, federal health officials maintain that some vaccine is better than none.

“An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of getting sick and spreading it to others,” officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. “When more people get vaccinated, less flu can spread through a community.”

It can take up to two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body, however, so the sooner you get vaccinated, the better.

The CDC recommend a flu shot for everyone older than 6 months old, unless they have a specific reason to not take the vaccine, such as an allergy.

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