Tips to Fight the Flu: NYS Health Commissioner Declares Flu Prevalent
New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD, JD, declared flu prevalent in the state on February 11. According to the state Department of Health, New York has seen 817 flu-related hospitalizations this season. Over the past three years, 26 children have died from flu in New York State.
Good Samaritan infection prevention specialists recommend a flu shot for healthy individuals over the age of six months as a key measure to prevent the spread of flu.
“Getting vaccinated early in the season is recommended,” said Kathy DiBenedetto, RN, Director of Infection Prevention at Good Samaritan. “However, it is not too late to get the shot if you have not already done so. As long as flu is spreading in the community, there is still an advantage to getting the vaccine.”
In addition, Ms. DiBenedetto encourages the use of proper hand hygiene to help reduce the spread of flu and other contagious illnesses
“Frequent hand-washing, especially before preparing and eating food, after using the restroom, before and after contact with people who may be ill, and when hands are visibly soiled, is the most important thing you can do to help protect your health and the health of those around you,” she said.
Individuals should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, or, for hands that are visibly soiled, wash for 15 – 20 seconds using soap and warm water.
Symptoms of flu may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Most people will recover from the flu with bed rest, increased fluid intake, and over-the-counter remedies for fever and pain. However some, including those considered to be at high risk such as young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, may require treatment with antiviral medications. These should be started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms in order to be most effective. Patients in these categories should see a health care provider immediately if they have flu symptoms.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who have fever with a rash, difficulty breathing, or other symptoms of severe flu should seek emergency medical treatment,” said Ms. DiBenedetto.
Additional information may be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2015-2016.htm. For a referral to a Good Samaritan Hospital physician, please call (631) 376-4444 or visit good-samaritan-hospital.org.