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Seasonal Flu Update


Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. (Seasonal Flu Update below)

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
• 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, though this is more common in children than adults

The Jefferson County Department of Health and the Birmingham-area medical community urge residents with minor flu or flu-like symptoms to refrain from going to hospital emergency departments to avoid overstressing the community’s resources. Mild cases of the flu usually do not require a hospital visit.

Serious symptoms are:

In children
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash

In adults
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
• Being unable to eat
• Has trouble breathing
• Has no tears when crying
• Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

Birmingham area hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms. Local emergency departments and outpatient clinics are also seeing very high volumes of patients. This is not a pandemic flu situation, but a major seasonal flu situation. This is happening nationwide, not just Birmingham, and is expected to continue for several days. Patients who do
visit an emergency department or outpatient clinic should be aware of long wait times. All local hospitals are
taking necessary steps to ensure that patients receive appropriate care.

People who are at high-risk for developing flu related complications are:
• Young children (younger than 5, but especially younger than 2 years old)
• Adults 65 years of age and older
• Pregnant women
• People with medical conditions such as a weakened immune system, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
• Residents of long-term care facilities

There are ways you can protect yourself, family and friends:
• Get the flu vaccine if you are 6 months of age and older
• Cover your cough and sneeze
• Wash your hands
• Clean living and working areas
• Avoid crowds
• Stay home from work or school if you are sick
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

Seasonal Flu Update:

During Week 11 (March 11, 2018 – March 17, 2018), 1.48% of Jefferson County, Alabama patient visits reported through ILINet were due to influenza-like illness (ILI) compared to 1.98% last year  (March 12, 2017- March 18, 2017); the baseline for this season is 1.52%. ILI is defined as: Temperature greater than or equal to 100°F   [37.8 °C] and a cough and/or a sore throat in the absence of a known cause other than influenza.
%  of Patient Visits for ILI   =   Number of patient visits with ILI  / Number of patient visits

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