The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Public Health is urging everyone to take extra precautions before school starts next week to prevent the spread of the flu.
“As children return to school, West Virginia could see further increases in flu activity and influenza outbreaks in schools,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared a flu epidemic earlier this week. West Virginia is among the states with widespread activity. The predominant strain of influenza circulating is influenza A H3N2 which is associated with more severe illness and mortality, especially in older people and young children.
During the month of December, 35 influenza outbreaks were reported to the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. One of the hardest hit populations have been school-aged children.
“West Virginia is already seeing high levels of influenza activity across the state and West Virginians should expect high levels of flu activity for weeks to come,” Dr. Gupta said. “This flu season is shaping up to be a severe one in the Mountain State.”
There are several preventive steps you can take to fight the flu:
- Get a flu shot. It’s not too late. While the flu vaccine this year does not match the dominant strain (H3N2) circulating, it can still protect you against other circulating strains and reduce the chances of developing flu related complications.
- Wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneeze into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
- Wipe down frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant.
- STAY HOME when you are sick.
Flu symptoms include quick onset of fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough. Persons who may be suffering from influenza-like symptoms should see a medical provider right away.
For more information about how you can fight the flu, go to www.dide.wv.gov and click on “Influenza.”
Sarah Lieu ■ Public Information Specialist ■ Division of Immunization Services ■ Telephone: (304) 356-4099 ■ E-mail: Sarah.M.Lieu@WV.Gov