HARRISBURG – Following a sharp rise in reported flu cases, state Health Secretary Dr. Calvin B. Johnson reminded Pennsylvanians of the steps they can take to avoid contracting or spreading respiratory influenza.
The number of flu cases in Pennsylvania rose dramatically in recent weeks and continues to rise. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, this season’s vaccine does not match about 60 percent of the lab-confirmed flu cases reported nationwide. Despite this, the state Department of Health still strongly encourages people to get a flu shot because the vaccine does offer some level of protection.
“It’s still not too late to get a flu shot,” said Johnson. “And, to curb the spread of the flu, remember simple prevention measures like washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, and avoiding contact with others when you are ill.”
Flu symptoms usually include fever, cough, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue and stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Stomach symptoms are more common in children, but may also occur in adults. Symptoms begin 1-5 days after exposure and commonly last for 2-7 days.
Johnson recommends the following steps to avoid catching or spreading the flu:
• Frequently wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands.
• Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing by washing with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Get plenty of rest, eat properly, and dress appropriately for the weather.
• When ill, prevent the spread of infection by staying home, if possible.
• Minimize time in crowded areas, such as shopping centers, and limit contact with those at high risk for the flu, such as the elderly and those with chronic illness.
If you have not received a flu shot and would like to receive one, contact your health care provider or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH. For more information, visit here.