(1/12/13) With influenza on the rise in the state and nation, health professionals want to remind citizens that it's not too late to get vaccinated, particularly those who are at high risk for complications from influenza illness.
High risk individuals include children younger than five (but especially children younger than 2 years old), adults 65 years of age or older, pregnant women, American Indians, and people who have medical conditions, including: asthma, heart disease, diabetes, HIV, or cancer.
Christine Hovell, Jackson County Health Officer, says that the State of Wisconsin has confirmed that the H3N2 influenza virus that has hit the area is a "powerful virus," which is one reason there is an increase in illness. Due to the severity of the strain, it is possible to get influenza even though you have received the vaccine; however, the State of Wisconsin confirms that the influenza vaccination is a "good match" and should protect against the circulating strains of influenza.
"We have noticed fewer sick days and a decrease in severity of illness in those people who have received their flu vaccination," stated Melissa Bergerson, Infection Prevention/Employee Health Nurse at Black River Memorial Hospital and she notes that vaccinated individuals have increased protection from life threatening complications associated with influenza.
The Jackson County Public Health Department has free vaccines available for infants and children up to age 18. Call 715-284-4301 to make an appointment. Monroe County Health Department (608-269-8666) and some Walgreens stores also have vaccinations.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Care
Get medical care right away if the sick person at home:
• has difficulty breathing or chest pain.
• has purple or blue discoloration of the lips.
• is vomiting and unable to keep liquids down.
• has signs of dehydration such as dizziness, absence of urination, or in infants, a lack of tears when they cry.
• has seizures (for example, uncontrolled convulsions).
• is less responsive than normal or becomes confused.
Influenza ('flu') is NOT the stomach flu. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Symptoms of influenza often include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue (very tired). If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to isolate yourself from other individuals; especially those who are at high risk. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)Most individuals who get influenza do not need medical care or an anti-viral drug and will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. If you have concerns, you can contact the Nurse Advisory Line provided by your insurance company or your primary care provider. Further information can be found at http://flu.wisconsin.gov