January 12, 2018
HOUSTON, TX — The Houston Health Department along with Mayor Sylvester Turner urge everyone 6 months of age and older to get a flu shot if they haven’t already, as influenza levels spike in Houston and across the nation.
The Health Department Thursday received reports of the flu-related deaths of two Houston women in their 60s, one in late November and the other in late December. Flu season runs from fall to spring.
“It’s important to protect yourself and your family against the flu,” Turner said. “The best thing you can do is to get a flu shot since it offers the best protection.”
Nearly 13 percent of current emergency room visits in the Houston area are due to flu-like illnesses, according to Health Department monitoring of about 40 area hospitals. The age group most affected in the Houston area is children under 4. They represent 42 percent of the ER visits due to flu-like illness, according to Health Department data.
Those at high risk for flu are young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and those age 65 and older. Also, they are at greater risk of severe complications if they get the flu.
People can visit their doctor, pharmacy or local health department to get a flu shot. Many supermarkets also offer the flu shot.
Another is to take an antiviral medicine that helps treat the flu like Tamiflu. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For people with high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
The CDC lists healthy habits to undertake to try and prevent the flu. Those include:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Additionally, the CDC offers three tips specifically to fight the flu, and that includes getting a flu shot for those who haven’t done so yet. With cold temperatures lurking in Texas the next week or so, these could be good tips to follow.
The Health Department offers flu shots at its health centers to people in high risk groups on a sliding scale basis that ranges from free to $15. To find the nearest health center, call 832-393-5427 or the City of Houston’s 311 information line or go online to houstonhealth.org. Besides getting a flu shot, other precautions people can take against the disease are:
People at high risk for the flu need to consult their doctor or an urgent care facility promptly if they get the flu. Doctors can prescribe antiviral medications that help make the illness shorter and milder. Medications work best if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and fatigue.
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