STATE — Winter weather in Wayne County and cases of the flu are being reported, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The organization states as of Jan. 5, 2019, “flu activity has been high been high in all state regions,” with the highest activity reported in the northeast and southeast regions of the Commonwealth.
A total of 9,268 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported, states the DoH, adding that “...confirmed reports were received from 66 ....out of the 67 counties.”
The percentage of outpatient visits associated with Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) “...has been high and surpassed the epidemic threshold for the region.”
Wayne County has had 159 confirmed cases of the flu, the DoH states, with 140 cases of influenza Type A and 19 cases of influenza Type B.
Last year, the county reported a total of 1,097 total cases of the flu, with 636 cases of Type A and 461 cases of Type B.
Across the state, a total of 10 adults have died from influenza associated deaths.
Monitoring of the disease, and its spread, is ramped up during the fall and winter, the DOH states, with official influenza surveillance starting in the 40th week of the year.
This season, surveillance began on Oct. 1, 2018 and will run through May 19, 2019.
About the flu
The flu is a “...contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs.”
It differs from a cold and traditionally comes on suddenly.
The virus is spread from person to person, the DOH states, adding that this can happen when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
“Coughs and sneeze produce virus-laden droplets that can spread up to three feet through the air.”
The flu can also spread when these droplets land on objects, like doorknobs and light switches.
Symptoms of the flu include the following.
The DOH notes that not all those with the flu will exhibit a fever or all of the below symptoms:
• Fever (usually high)
• Dry cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose, and
• Muscle or body aches.
The incubation period for the flu is one to five days, “...although onset of symptoms most commonly starts within 48 hours of exposure,” with the illness lasting between three to seven days.
The DOH states the “....single best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccination...”
The flu shot contains a “...killed virus...” that spurs the body to begin developing antibodies approximately two weeks after being administered.
To help reduce the spread of the flu, the DOH recommends the following:
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
• Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
• Avoid contact with those who are ill.
• If you contract the flu, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings to prevent spreading the illness, and
•Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm.