posted Jan 19, 2017, 11:03 AM by Patty Gelbrich   [ updated Jan 19, 2017, 11:04 AM ]
Flu is a very contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu virus.
 More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu complications, including 20,000 children.  Up to 36,000 people die from the flu every year.  Flu season starts in December and peaks in February or March.  Cowlitz County schools, like other schools, have seen an increase in the number of students and staff with flu.

What are the symptoms of influenza?
While many children with a cold or flu start to feel better within a week, the virus can last for up to 3 weeks.  Flu symptoms can begin suddenly and include fever (100.4 degrees or higher), fatigue (very tired), muscle or body aches, chills, sore throat, cough, and a stuffy or runny nose.  Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, but this is more common in children than adults.  People who have the flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick until 5 to 7 days after.  Surfaces and hands contaminated with nose, mouth, or throat secretions can also spread the virus.

How do you stop the spread of germs?
Practice and Teach Good Health Habits:  Wash hands a lot with soap and water.  Remind children to keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth.  Hand sanitizers are acceptable when soap and water are not available.  Cover nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Put tissues in the trash.  

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in the home, at work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Stay home from school, day care and work while sick, until fever-free and feeling better.  People are contagious for up to 7 days or longer after they get sick.

Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Consult your help care provider for further recommendations, particularly if you or your child are not improving or getting worse. 

It's not too late to get the flu shot!  It can prevent or reduce the symptoms of flu.

Stay healthy this winter!