• September 17, 2014

What to do when you have the flu?  

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Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014 4:30 am

The flu season marches on and remains widespread in Texas.

While the percentage of positive specimens for influenza has increased slightly from the previous reporting period, a number of regions are reporting that flu activity has dropped.

Three people have died in Bell County — one infant and two older women — during the 2013-2014 flu season.

As of Wednesday, there were no additional deaths, said Lacy Sanders, Bell County Health District disease surveillance coordinator. However, several individuals with influenza are on ventilators.

“With those we just have to wait and see,” Sanders said.

Flu is causing severe illness in certain people and it’s not unexpected this time of year, but it’s a good reminder for people to get vaccinated and stay home if they’re sick,” Dr. David Lakey, Department of State Health Services commissioner, said earlier this flu season.

“Flu can be deadly,” Lakey said. “People who have not been vaccinated should do so now. It’s the best defense we have.”

There are some steps people can take to avoid spreading the flu at home and at work.

Individuals with a fever of 100 degrees or above, and a cough and/or a sore throat, should remain home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone — without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

Fever-reducing medications include acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, or naproxyn. The person should remain at home throughout the entire period, except to get medical care or other necessities.

Aspirin also reduces fever, but do not give aspirin to children or teenagers who have the flu, because this can cause a rare but serious illness called Reye’s syndrome.

Check the ingredients on the package label on over-the-counter cold and flu medicines, as some of them may already contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen or aspirin.

When to go to the doctor

Most people with seasonal flu fully recover without going to the doctor or taking antiviral medications.

However, some people are more likely to experience complications if they become ill with influenza-like illness and should be treated as quickly as possible after signs and symptoms of influenza-like illness develop.

People with influenza-like illness who are at high risk of flu complications should speak with their health care provider as soon as possible.

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