So far, Geary County has had a relatively mild flu season, but according to the Centers for Disease Control, that may not remain the case.
Director of the Geary County Health Department Tammy Von Busch, the number of flu cases in Geary County has not recently exploded by any means.
“Over the past 30 days, the number of influenza-like illness reported by the ER in Geary County has remained relatively steady,” she said. “However, the CDC reports that flu activity in Kansas overall is high and regional.”
Predictions by the CDC indicate flu season is in full swing. Flu risks are expected to remain high through the middle of January.
According to Von Busch, there’s a 40 percent chance that Geary County’s flu season has already peaked, reaching its apex some time in late December.
“Flu activity will likely peak between December and February,” she said.
There is, Von Busch said, a 30 percent chance flu season will peak in January and a 25 percent it will reach its apex in February.
Those who haven’t had their flu shots yet can still receive one at this point in the season, though the ideal time to receive the vaccine is closer to October or November.
“We still have some flu vaccine available, so people can call the Health Department for availability,” she said. “We have vaccinated at the schools and numerous other organizations in the community which is very important in helping control the spread of flu.”
Other ways to prevent the spread of the disease include staying home when sick and avoiding contact with sick people when healthy.
Regulations laid out by the State of Kansas dictate that someone who is confirmed to be sick with influenza must stay home for seven days after symptoms have begun to show. The CDC indicates that people with the flu are contagious for between five and seven days after they grow sick.
People who are sick with respiratory infections that come accompanied by fevers should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever has passed, without added help from fever-reducing medications, according to Von Busch. It’s possible, if fever-reducing medications are used, that a person is still contagious even if they’re not in the midst of a fever.
People should wash their hands with soap and water when needed, including when they cough or sneeze. Hand sanitizer is also an option. They should cover their mouths and noses when they cough or sneeze, as well. Used tissues should be discarded in the trash.
Von Busch said people should avoid touching their eyes, noses, and mouths to prevent the spread of germs.
Any surface that may be contaminated with flu or similar germs should be sanitized and disinfected.
According to Von Busch, vaccines are among of the surest ways to avoid flu.
“While vaccine effectiveness can vary, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 percent and 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine,” she said.
Vaccination keeps not only the recipient of the shot healthy, but also protects those around them, according to Von Busch.
“Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with the flu,” she said. “It can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working age adults, and older adults. It is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy. It can be life-saving for children. It has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you.”