The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) reports a sharp increase in the number of cases of influenza, with 28 cases confirmed in the county in the past few weeks. LLCHD said the number of those with flu-like illnesses also has increased. Influenza is a highly infectious disease of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness and lead to death. Symptoms may include fever or feeling feverish, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
LLCHD said a flu vaccination is the primary method for preventing influenza. The antibodies that protect against flu virus infection develop about two weeks after vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control recommend everyone age six months and older receive the flu vaccine every year. Those who have not yet received an immunization this flu season are encouraged to do so immediately. For more information, call 402-441-8065 or visit health.lincoln.ne.gov (select “Vaccine Clinic” under “Community Health Services”).
Immunization is especially important for the following individuals:
- Those at high risk of developing serious complications, such as pneumonia
- Pregnant women
- Those whose immune systems are compromised
- Those age 65 and older with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Those who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including health care workers
- Household contacts of those at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than age five, especially those younger than six months old
Individuals can also reduce the risk of getting and spreading influenza by covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when they cough or sneeze, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and staying home if they have symptoms.