First seasonal influenza cases of season confirmed in Spokane - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

First seasonal influenza cases of season confirmed in Spokane

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Regional Health District reports that the season's first confirmed cases of influenza (type B) has been identified in two Spokane County residents.

The cases come at the typical time of year for the start of seasonal influenza, which generally runs from October through March, often peaking in late January through February.
 
"We have basic recommendations at this time," said Dr. Joel McCullough, Health Officer for the Spokane Regional Health District. "We want people to get a seasonal flu vaccination and the H1N1 vaccine if they are in a prioritized group."
 
"The confirmed cases means that the virus is in our community," said McCullough. "It is a reminder for everyone to take actions that will minimize its spread."  People can protect themselves against the spread of both the seasonal and the H1N1 flu viruses by taking simple precautions such as washing their hands frequently with soap and water, staying at home when ill and covering their coughs and sneezes.
 
Influenza is a serious, vaccine preventable, respiratory infection causing fever, headache, muscle aches, weakness, runny nose, sore throat and dry cough.

In a typical season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate approximately 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 people die of flu-related complications in the United States. Most of the serious illness from seasonal influenza occurs among individuals who are age 50 and older, adults and children with chronic health conditions, pregnant women in their second or third trimester, and children up to 5 years of age. 
 
In addition to those at high risk for complications from the flu, the Health District urges people who live with or care for those at high risk of complications to get vaccinated, including:

- Household contacts of persons at high risk

- Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (as these children are too young to be vaccinated.)

- Healthcare workers, and other care providers of people at risk for flu complications 
 
Additional simple measures to avoid transmitting influenza include:

- Using good personal hygiene such as covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, followed by hand washing

- Isolating children and adults who have a flu-like illness with fever and cough or sore throat, and keeping them from others by remaining at home, rather than attending school, daycare or work, where others would be exposed

- Washing hands frequently to reduce the likelihood of transmitting influenza, and many other diseases
 
Seasonal flu vaccine is available at many local healthcare providers, pharmacies, grocery stores and at the Health District's Public Health Clinic. Appointments for two upcoming nasal spray H1N1 swine flu vaccination clinics are being scheduled Tuesday beginning at 9 a.m. by calling 324-1648.
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