Flu Season- How You Can Stay Safe

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The Florida Department of Health is conducting enhanced surveillance of intensive-care unit (ICU) patients aged <65 with laboratory-confirmed influenza. The majority of cases occurred in unvaccinated people with underlying health conditions. People at high-risk for complications from influenza infection, such as children, adults aged 65 years and older and pregnant women continued to be most impacted.
Tips to Stay Health This Flu Season:

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Flu Immunizations and prevention:
  1. The Florida Department of Health recommends that sick people stay home until fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and that all people use good HANDWASHING practices. -CDC video on handwashing
  2. Those who have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible. • Flu vaccines are safe and are the best way to prevent influenza infection and serious influenza complications.
  3. To find a flu shot near you, please visit: www.floridahealth.gov/findaflushot. Flu vaccines are also available at your local county health department.
  4. A recent study showed that flu vaccination can reduce a child’s likelihood of dying from influenza by 50-60%. For more information, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0403-flu-vaccine.html.
Flu Treatment

• In severe seasons like the one Florida is currently experiencing, the use of antivirals is especially important. There is no shortage of antivirals, however, some supply chain issues have been reported.

• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the use of antiviral treatment as soon as possible for all hospitalized, severely ill, and people who are at higher risk for complications with suspect influenza: children <2 years old, adults ≥65 years old, pregnant women, and those with underlying medical conditions. Treatment should be administered within 48 hours of illness onset (but treatment administered after this period can still be beneficial). A recent CDC health advisory stresses the importance of rapid and early antiviral treatment this season. For more information, visit: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/influenza/_documents/cdc-han-influenza-12-27-2017.pdf.

• Clinicians should not wait for laboratory confirmation to administer antivirals to people with suspect influenza.

False Negatives On Flu Testing

Be aware that false negatives on flu testing is not uncommon. Rapid flu tests used in doctors' offices can show that people don't have the flu when they actually do. You might have the flu even if you don't test positive. Rapid flu testing has a sensitivity ranging from approximately 50% to 70%. Nationwide, there have been 144,910 confirmed cases of the flu this season. However, due to false negatives and so many people waiting out their flu at home, the number of actual flu cases this season is much higher.

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What is a Flu Outbreak?

** An outbreak is a sudden increase in occurrences of a disease in a particular time and place. It may affect a small and localized group such as a family or school or impact upon thousands of people across an entire continent. According to Mr. Don Lindeman, ONE flu outbreak can affect many people and be ongoing for a very long time until it is controlled. He suggests good handwashing and using paper towels in the bathroom rather than a shared towel as a way that you can break the chain and not get sick. Mr. Don also pointed out that it's possible for you to have a virus AND a bacterial infection at the same time. A main cause of death in people having the flu is actually a secondary infection with bacteria.

Tips for Travelers

Traveling? More information From CDC on Flu in USA Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report​