Influenza 2018 Update
Influenza and influenza-like illness activity continues to be widespread on Cape Cod and throughout the state, according to a recent advisory from the state Department of Public Health (MADPH). The following information is intended as a public service announcement from Cape Cod Healthcare to update and educate the Cape Cod community about the flu outbreak.
Is the flu outbreak on Cape Cod comparable to the rest of the state/country?
According to the latest advisory from the MADPH, influenza activity is considered “widespread” in Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties, which is also what most of the rest of the state and country are experiencing.
Is Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) prepared for this continuing flu activity and does it have the necessary staff, medications, space to adequately treat patients suffering from the flu or influenza-like illness?
CCHC prepared early in the year for an active flu season, and has the necessary resources to adequately treat all patients.
What are the symptoms of the flu, and how do they differ from a cold?
The flu usually has an abrupt onset and is characterized by the presence of fever, sore throat, cough, and muscle aches and pains. A cold comes on gradually and may have many different combinations of symptoms, such as a stuffy head and nose, runny nose and watery eyes, and/or coughing and sneezing.
What is the best way to treat the flu and when should you seek treatment?
Treat your flu symptoms at home with plenty of rest, fluids and medication for fever and achiness. See your primary care provider (PCP) as soon as possible. If he or she determines that you have the flu, there are medications that can lessen the severity and duration of the illness, if taken early when symptoms first start. If your PCP prescribes a medication, have someone else fill it for you, so you are not taking the infection into public areas.
How do I know when to seek further treatment or go to the hospital?
Seek further treatment if your fever is not responding to your medications (antipyretics), your breathing symptoms get worse after about 48 hours, and/or you are not able to keep up with fluid intake.
What is the best way to prevent the flu, and is there still time to get a flu shot?
Vaccination is the best protection against the flu, and there is still time to get a shot and have some protection for the rest of the flu season. There is still plenty of supply in the community and, even though this year’s vaccination is not a perfect match to the most common influenza strain we are seeing, it will still give you some protection and may weaken the effects of the virus, if you do get it.
Wash your hands frequently. Flu germs can be carried on dirty hands and infect everyone they touch.
Who is most at risk from the flu, and what is the best way to protect them?
People with chronic illnesses, older adults, pregnant women and young children are most vulnerable. To protect them you should:
- Get vaccinated
- Have everyone in the household get vaccinated
- Wash your hands and wash their hands
- Practice safe “cough etiquette” (coughing into your elbow or tissues)
- Keep them away from crowds and people who may be sick
- Continue to manage their health so they can be their healthiest at all times.
For further information about the flu and this year’s activity, visit the MADPH flu page on www.mass.gov.