EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSINFLUENZA CASES
from Eyewitness News Online
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Reports Rise In Influenza Illness
Reported by: Jeff Morris
Web Producer: Jeff Morris
Reported: Dec. 5, 2012 4:20 PM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Kanawha-Charleston Health Department officials said there has been an increase of influenza illness in Kanawha County over the last week, including clusters of related cases.
"Influenza, or the flu, is hard to predict," Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director of the health department, said in a news release. "However, since we are beginning to see confirmed cases of flu in the community, we expect there to be a significant increase in flu illness over the next several weeks. Daycares, schools, and nursing homes need to pay special attention as a single case can quickly turn into an outbreak of illness."
For thousands of West Virginians every season, the flu can mean a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, fatigue, and miserable days spent in bed. The flu can also cause serious illness requiring hospitalization, and can even lead to death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that from 1976 to 2007, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people each year.
An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent the flu and the flu-related complications. The CDC recommends that nearly everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. Anyone can get the flu, but some people are at greater risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For those at greater risk for complications, getting the flu vaccine is especially important.
People at greater risk include:
• Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old
• Pregnant women
• People with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease
• People 65 years and older
It's also important to get the vaccine if you care for anyone in one or more of these high risk groups, or for babies younger than 6 months because they are too young to get the vaccine.
"Even though we're beginning to see cases already this season, it's still not too late to get your flu shot," Gupta said. "Flu season typically peaks in January and February and can last as late as May. We encourage anyone who has not yet been vaccinated this year to get vaccinated now."
Flu vaccinations are given daily without an appointment at the health department from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you need additional information, please contact 304-344-5243 or visit the health Department website, www.kchdwv.org.
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