The following press release was provided by Lexington's Public Health Division.
Yesterday, Feb. 16, the Center for Disease Control reported for the first time this season that the percent of respiratory specimens testing positive for influenza has surpassed 10 percent, which is generally a marker to indicate that flu season is beginning.
By this measure, activity this season is off to a late start. In the past 29 years, the percent of respiratory samples testing positive for flu has remained below the 10 percent mark until February only once before (1987-1988). Other indicators are lagging, but are expected to increase in the coming weeks. So it’s not too late to get your flu shot!
Influenza, known as flu, is a very contagious disease of the respiratory (breathing) system. The flu is caused by a virus that is easily passed from one person to another by coughing and sneezing. For most people, the flu makes them feel very sick, but they generally get better in about a week. However, young children, people older than 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions can have serious complications from the flu. These complications can include pneumonia and worsening of medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma.
The following tips, in addition to getting an annual flu vaccination, can help protect you, your neighbors, friends, co-workers and family during the regular flu season.
Wash your hands Frequent hand washing with soap, warm water and disposable paper towels is best. Alcohol based hand sanitizer is also an effective means to clean your hands.
Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Throw tissues away and wash your hands. Staying home when sick also helps to keep the illness from spreading.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth This decreases the chance that you will get the flu virus or other germs into your body, or that you will pass the flu to others.
Clean surfaces that are touched often Clean things that are touched often, such as door or refrigerator handles, computer key boards/mouse phones and water faucets.
Avoid contact with people who are sick Avoid unnecessary contact like holding, kissing or sharing food, dishes and cups with anyone who has a cold or the flu. People with young children, weak immune system or a chronic illness should avoid large crowds, if possible.
For more information and to receive a free copy of “Caring for People at Home, Flu – What you can Do.” please contact the Health Director Gerard Cody at 781-862-0500 x 237. You may also visit, www.cdc.gov/flu or www.mass.gov/dph/flu. This important message was brought to you by the Lexington Board of Health.