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Flu ‘Widespread’ in State; Hartford County Hardest Hit

December 21, 2017

Never mind what you want for the holidays. We all know what you don’t want — the flu. But it’s too late for many of you.

Connecticut is now among 12 states with flu activity classified as widespread. The state Department of Public Health says 355 people have tested positive for influenza during the current season, through Dec. 16. Influenza A (H3N2) is the most likely flu variant in both the state and nationally. Of the state’s 355 cases, 267 were Type A (subtype unspecified), 29 Type A (H3N2), 5 Type A (2009 H1N1) and 54 influenza B viruses.

Influenza has been reported in every county in the state, with Hartford’s 109 cases the most. The remaining counties: Fairfield (94), New Haven (72), New London (32), Tolland (20), Middlesex (13), Litchfield (9) and Windham (6). A total of 144 people have been hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza since the flu season started Aug. 27, says DPH.

If you’ve avoided the flu so far, keep it that way by following these three  steps:

1. Take the time to get a flu vaccine.

It’s the most effect way to prevent the flu during season that peaks in February and March but can start as early as October and last through May.

The influenza vaccine protects against the strains of the flu that research predicts will be most common during the year. It is especially important that individuals who are at high-risk to suffer complications from the disease get immunized.

“Certainly if you’re older or if you have health conditions like heart disease or lung disease it’s very important for you to get your flu shot,” says Dr. Virginia Bieluch, Chief of Infectious Diseases at the Hospital of Central Connecticut.  “It is a disease that at a minimum can put you in bed for a few days but can also have  serious consequences [for those whose health is already compromised] including death.

High-risk people include:

  • Young children. Since children 6 months and younger cannot be vaccinated, their caregivers should be vaccinated to decrease risk to infant.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Those over 65 years of age.
  • Those with chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes, and heart and lung disease.

2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

Stop the spread of germs with these simple tips:

  •  If you do get the flu, limit your contact with other people.
  •  Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue away after one use.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap, often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose — germs spread this way.
  • Disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.

3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

If you experience the following symptoms during the flu season, contact your health care provider:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Some people also experience vomiting and diarrhea
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Feeling sick? If you need immediate medical attention, call 9-1-1, visit your local emergency department, or contact your local Hartford HealthCare/GoHealth Urgent Care Center. For more information, please visit HartfordHealthCare.org.