Archive for Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mild flu season still calls for concern

January 24, 2007

It's here - the peak of flu season.

But the good news is that it appears to be a mild season so far.

Tonganoxie physician Philip Stevens said this is the second consecutive year the area has seen just a few cases of influenza.

"We've just had a handful of people with it -- maybe 10 or 12," he said. "And it has been intermittent."

Basehor Elementary School nurse Teri Chandler said there have been only a few confirmed cases of influenza and she has sent two contagion notices to parents so far this year. Tonganoxie Elementary School nurse Stephanie Hebert said she hasn't seen any.

"I haven't heard of any confirmed cases of the actual influenza that we're immunized against, but we have seen an upswing in absences."

While the flu may appear to taking a vacation, Stevens warns that it is still out there. Symptoms can be sudden and severe and in some cases it can be fatal. It is characterized by a high fever, severe head and body aches, sore throat and cough.

"If an adult's temperature reaches 103 or 104, they've probably got influenza," Stevens said. "It's kind of overwhelming. People feel so bad that they're kind of dazed by it. Not many diseases are that abrupt and onset."

Hebert said she has been focusing on making the children aware that it is flu season and giving them tips to help avoid it. She has been reviewing with the children the importance of good hand washing, eating right and getting plenty of sleep.

"The way to avoid it is all the same," she said. "We just need to take care of ourselves this time of year."

Besides staying home, the best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot, Stevens said. While there was a small shortage of vaccine late last year, there is plenty now and Stevens has administered more than 400 vaccinations. Most importantly, it is not too late to receive at flu shot.

"Right now, we're ordinarily at the peak of it (flu season)," he said. "But it can go through March and generally fades out in April."

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