The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 1, 2013

Flu season begins early


DANVILLE — Beginning earlier than it has in nearly a decade, flu season has hit Vermilion County.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speculated the 2012-2013 flu season has the potential to be severe due to the prematurity and type of cases the CDC has seen thus far.

According to the Vermilion County Health Department, proper flu prevention is essential for a healthy lifestyle.

Shirley Hicks, the Vermilion County Health Department’s public health administrator, said flu vaccinations are one of the most important aspects of flu prevention, protecting not only the vaccinated individual, but also everyone the person encounters.

“While (the flu vaccination) may not protect you 100 percent,” Hicks said, “it could lessen the case of influenza that you might get.”

Hicks explained that each year, the CDC creates a vaccine containing virus types it feels will be prominent. And while flu season is in its beginning stages, Hicks said this year’s flu shot has been successful.

“Sometimes they do a great job, like this year,” Hicks said. “(The CDC) says that the types of flu that it has seen match very well with the strains that are in the vaccine.”

Some believe flu vaccinations can cause influenza, rather than prevent it, but Julie Randolph, employee health nurse at Provena United Samaritans Medical Center, said that is a myth.

“You’re not getting injected with a live virus,” Randolph said. “It’s just enough of the serum that your body actually creates antibodies against the flu.”

Randolph also said the vaccination usually does not take effect until two weeks after it is received.

Beyond getting vaccinated, Hicks and Randolph both encourage the flu prevention practices of covering one’s cough, frequently cleaning one’s hands and remaining home while ill. The common practice of coughing into one’s hand should be avoided as it can transmit the virus to surfaces touched by the infected individual.

Influenza, not to be confused with the common cold, often can be characterized by fever, coughing, headache, fatigue, aching muscles and congestion.

It can be treated with antiviral medication, though it is not always necessary.

Randolph said the best treatment for the flu is rest, hydration and isolation.