Stark braces for a nasty flu season

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Well being officers, each nationally and in Stark County, are predicting an early and presumably extreme flu season.

Brace yourselves, flu season is coming.

Well being officers, each nationally and in Stark County, are predicting an early and presumably extreme flu season.

In Stark County, well being officers documented 13 circumstances of influenza for the week ending Nov. 25. To this point this yr, 40 circumstances of influenza have been documented and 20 individuals, ranging in age from 2 to 96 years outdated, have been hospitalized for the sickness.

It does not sound like many circumstances however in comparison with years previous, “it is important,” stated Amanda Archer, epidemiologist on the Canton Metropolis Well being Division.

This time final yr, Stark County had solely two recorded circumstances of influenza and 0 hospitalizations.

The well being division publishes weekly influenza reviews on its web site at These reviews use a number of components to trace the virus, together with emergency room and stat care visits, hospital admissions, faculty absenteeism, lab reviews, state and nationwide knowledge and over-the-counter gross sales of cough and chilly treatments.

“Each flu season has its personal traits,” Archer stated. “This one simply occurred to hit us early.”

Yearly, about 5 p.c to 20 p.c of the U.S. inhabitants will get the flu. Greater than 200,000 individuals are hospitalized yearly and greater than 36,000 individuals die, in accordance with the well being division.

Flu season sometimes runs from October to Could and infrequently peaks between December and February. They fluctuate in severity, relying on components similar to which viruses are circulating, the effectiveness of the yearly vaccine and the way many individuals are vaccinated, in accordance with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.

It is nonetheless too early to foretell precisely what this flu season will deliver, however with an early begin the variety of circumstances will proceed to rise, Archer stated.

What’s influenza?

The flu is a contagious respiratory sickness brought on by the influenza virus.

There are differing types and sub-types of the virus. Sort A and kind B (and their sub-types) are what trigger yearly flu outbreaks, in accordance with the CDC. Totally different strains flow into annually. That is why you may hear well being officers seek advice from strains like H3N2 or H1N1 (each kind A viruses).

Viruses are continually altering and its not unusual for brand spanking new strains to look, in accordance with the CDC.

“Culturally we name just about something the flu,” she stated. “When you will have influenza, you are going to understand it.”

Influenza typically causes a excessive fever. Signs final for a number of days and embody a runny nostril, cough, sore throat, physique and muscle ache, headache and fatigue. Some kids additionally will expertise diarrhea.

The flu shouldn’t be a chilly, Archer stated. “Your complete physique will damage. You will really feel such as you received hit by a Mack truck … You will really feel like crud.”


The flu vaccine is a big solution to scale back your threat, Archer stated.

As a result of the virus adjustments yearly, so does the vaccine. You want a brand new shot yearly. The CDC recommends the shot for anybody 6 months and older.

Most people get the vaccine in October or November — it takes about three weeks on your physique to construct up immunity — but when you have not had one, it isn’t too late, stated Mark Giangardella, head pharmacist on the Medication Middle Pharmacy in Canton.

“You need your physique to construct up antibodies by the peak of flu season,” he stated.

Flu vaccines are free on the Medication Middle with most medical insurance, he stated.

The flu shot is particularly essential for older adults, caregivers and those that work with the general public, Giangardella stated.

The flu can result in harmful respiratory infections, similar to pneumonia, he stated. “The problems may be lethal.”

Regardless of rumors, you can not get the flu from the flu shot, Archer stated.

The vaccine is made with an inactive virus — it isn’t alive — that triggers your physique’s defenses, she defined. Your immune system acknowledges the inactive virus as one thing unhealthy and international, so it will get to work creating antibodies. In the event you are available in contact with the influenza virus later, your physique will already be protected.

That immune response is why the shot typically causes a low-grade fever or different gentle signs, she stated.

It’s doable to get the flu even when you’re vaccinated. In the event you have been uncovered earlier than the shot, signs could not present up till after the shot. And it takes just a few weeks for immunity to develop.

The flu shot sometimes reduces your probability of getting the flu by about 40 p.c to 60 p.c, in accordance with the CDC.

Effectiveness varies yr to yr. Some reviews have stated that the vaccine is just about 10 p.c efficient this yr.

The CDC has stated that declare, based mostly on Australian knowledge, might not be correct.

In the event you’re involved concerning the vaccine, or not sure when you may be vaccinated, discuss along with your physician, Archer stated.

Even when you’re not frightened about being sick, getting the flu shot means you are serving to to cease the unfold of the virus and defending those that cannot be vaccinated, she stated.

No matter your vaccination standing, you possibly can take different steps to keep away from the flu: wash your palms usually, keep away from the general public whenever you’re sick and get loads of relaxation.


In the event you suppose you will have the flu, particularly when you’ve got extreme signs similar to shortness of breath, go to the physician. 

This yr, Medication Middle pharmacies are providing on-site testing for flu and strep throat. A pharmacist will swab your cheek and in a couple of minutes provide you with outcomes. The pharmacist can then contact your physician about getting you a prescription.

If the flu is caught early, medical doctors could prescribe an antiviral drug, Giangardella stated.

You can too deal with treating signs — lozenges for sore throats, Tylenol or ibuprofen for fever and many fluids, he stated.

Attain Jessica at 330-580-8322 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.

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