McFarland Clinic

Flu Update: Two Strains Circulating the State

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December 12, 2014

The Iowa Department of Public Health confirmed cases of influenza in Iowa during October. While the number of cases is low, the identification indicates two different flu viruses are circulating the state. Now is the perfect time to get your flu vaccination. With two strains circulating it means that without a flu vaccination, an individual could become ill with the flu two different times.  See the latest charts from the CDC on the spread of flu>>

How does the flu spread?

The flu is a contagious, respiratory illness. It is spread person to person via droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. People can spread the flu to others up to 6 feet away. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

How soon will I get sick if I am exposed to the flu?

Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

How do I know if I have the flu?

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever*
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

What should I do if I get sick?

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. 

5 Steps to Take if You Get the Flu

  1. Stay at home and rest.
  2. Avoid close contact with well people in your house so you won’t make them sick.
  3. Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration).
  4. Treat fever and cough with medicines you can buy at the store.
  5. If you get very sick, are pregnant, or are 65 years or older, or are otherwise at high risk of flu-related complications, call your doctor. You might need antiviral drugs to treat flu.

How long should I stay home if I'm sick?

CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a facemask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

Who should get vaccinated: You!

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone ages six months and older receive an annual seasonal flu vaccination. Getting a vaccination is very important for certain people at high risk, including:

  • Children younger than five but especially younger than two
  • Adults 65 years of age or older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic medical conditions

In addition, people who live with or care for those at high risk of flu complications should receive a vaccination, including:

  • Health care workers
  • Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
  • Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than six months of age

Call your primary care office to schedule a flu vaccination for you and your family. 

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