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Knox County Health Department Warning Locals Of Flu Outbreak In Knox County

Knox County Health Department Warning Locals Of Flu Outbreak In Knox County

When talking about the flu (influenza), the
health department is referring to the highly contagious respiratory illness
caused by the flu viruses. This
respiratory disease can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to
death. The flu is different from a
cold, it usually comes on suddenly and can have the following symptoms: fever (usually high), headache, extreme
tiredness, a dry cough, a sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, and
sometimes stomach symptoms (usually more common in children).

Persons more prone to serious complications
from the flu include those over age 65, those that are very young (less than 6
months cannot be vaccinated), pregnant women, and those with chronic medical
conditions (ex. Diabetes, asthma). The
flu can lead to pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infection and many more
respiratory tract complications. This
makes vaccination very important for those high risk persons, as well as those
caring for and socializing with them.

After the flu virus enters the body you may
start to develop symptoms within 1-4 days.
Healthy adults may be able to spread the infection from 1 day prior to
showing any symptoms up to 5 days after being sick. In addition, children may pass the virus for greater than 7
days. This means that you may believe
you are well, when in fact you are still passing the virus to those you come in
contact with. To prevent the spread of the
illness, practice good hand washing skills, always cough into your sleeve,
sanitize everyday amenities (ex. Telephone, toys, work utensils, household
equipment, etc.), and distance yourself from others during your ill period and
up to 5 days after being sick. You
should not be returning to school or work until you have been fever free
without medication for 24 hours.

Peak flu months are November through March,
again with February/March typically seeing the highest number of confirmed
cases. Should you obtain the flu virus,
rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco, and take
medicine to relieve your flu symptoms, such as fever. However, remember that your health care providers will typically
treat your symptoms and not the flu itself, because it is a virus, making
antibiotics useless. It is also
important to never give aspirin to a child or teenager until you have spoken
with your health care provider, because a rare but serious illness, known as
Reye Syndrome, can occur.

Finally, Lori Moots-Clair, Administrator
with the department would like to remind you that many people have called
regarding the “stomach flu”, and although nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can be
associated with influenza, especially in children, the vaccine individuals are
receiving is meant to prevent respiratory influenza. Moots-Clair reports that the upsurge in gastrointestinal illness
(vomiting and diarrhea) has begun as of March 1, 2012; and although it has not
been confirmed, the main “bug” appears to be very much like Norovirus. Norovirus causes acute gastroenteritis in
humans, with an average 12-48 hours before onset of symptoms after
exposure. The illness is characterized
by very rapid onset of vomiting; watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal
cramps and nausea. Along with this can
come nausea, malaise, headache and with 1/3 of the cases a fever. This type of illness is spread through
droplets containing vomit or diarrhea (from vomiting, coughing, sneezing,
unclean hands, etc.) from person to person or from the environment to person
(desk to person, phone to person, etc.).
The virus lives on surfaces for greater periods of time, so measures in
the environment are necessary to prevent transmission. The primary method of control is isolation
of the ill person; keep yourself away from others at the first sign of
illness. In addition disinfect the
environment, and it is recommended that persons use masks and gloves when
disinfecting contaminated areas, and practice hand washing regularly at all
times. The same method for transmission
control in this illness is the same as respiratory, individuals should be fever
free for 24 hours without medications, and if no fever is present should be
symptom free for 24 hours, before returning to work, school, daycare or other
social events.

Lori Moots-Clair encourages anyone with
questions about these common winter illnesses to call the health department for
more information, and stresses, “that the best method for stopping illness is
hand washing and knowing when to stay home”.