“We have started to see positive test results and hospitalizations due to influenza in the past three weeks,” says Emily Leedy, Epidemiologist at Richland Public Health. Numbers from December show 70 cases of influenza, and eight (8) hospitalizations. In December of 2017 there were 13 hospitalizations. That number jumped to 180 flu-related hospitalizations in January of 2018.
It’s not too late to get your yearly flu vaccine to possibly avoid getting sick. Walk-ins are welcome at the Public Health Clinic at Richland Public Health. To shorten wait times, you can also schedule a flu shot at a time convenient for you by calling 419-774-4700.
Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year. Here’s why:
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
- Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness. People at high risk of serious flu complications include (1) young children, (2) pregnant women, (3) people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and (4) people 65 years and older.
- Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to them.
- People who live with or care for infants should be also be vaccinated.
Richland Public Health is sharing the following FAQs about the flu
Is It A Cold or The Flu?
The flu and the common cold are both respiratory illnesses but they are caused by different viruses. Because these two types of illnesses have similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more widespread and intense. Colds generally do not result in serious health problems, such as pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalizations. Flu can have very serious associated complications.
The symptoms of flu can include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue (tiredness). Cold symptoms are usually milder than the symptoms of flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.–
Does Cold Weather Make You Sick?
This question has probably been asked since the first time the flu made someone sick. After all, cold and flu season occurs when the weather is cold, so there must be a connection, right? Not exactly. No matter how many times your mother and grandmother told you not to go out in the cold because you would catch a cold or the flu, it just doesn’t work that way.
What Really Makes You Sick?
The truth is the flu and the common cold are caused by viruses. There are over 200 viruses that cause the symptoms that we refer to as the common cold. Rhinoviruses cause a majority of colds, but they can be caused by coronaviruses, enteroviruses, and others as well. Because there are so many viruses that cause these symptoms, there may never be a cure for the common cold. The flu, on the other hand, is caused by the influenza virus.
Why Do We Get Sick When It’s Cold Outside?
People get sick more often in the winter because they are exposed to each other more than in the summer. When it is cold outside, people tend to stay inside and are more likely to spread germs to one another. Also, because school is in session, kids are around each other all day and are not afraid to share their germs. With so many people in such close contact, the likelihood of passing germs is much higher when it is cold outside than when it is warm and people are outdoors.
There is also evidence now that viruses spread more easily through the dry air. When it is cold outside, the air is drier both outdoors and inside (where people have their heaters on), which may make it easier for germs to pass from one person to another. But it is not the cold weather that causes the cold; it just might make it easier to spread the virus.
What’s the Best Protection From Cold and Flu?
The most important thing to remember during cold and flu season is to protect yourself against these germs when you are around other people. Try to avoid touching your face as much as possible, since that is how most respiratory germs enter your body. Viruses are passed by contact between people, so remember these simple tips for staying healthy and keeping others healthy:
- wash your hands frequently
- cover your coughs
- stay home if you are sick
- get your flu shot.