Influenza A is hitting Johnson County residents hard this flu season, much like the rest of Kansas. As of today, Feb. 15, 1,743 cases of influenza have been voluntarily reported to the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE), with 85 percent attributed to Flu A. The number of cases is still substantially lower than this time last year, when close to 5,000 cases had been reported. This season, there has been one death in Johnson County directly linked to influenza. Influenza season generally runs October through March, with the season peaking at the end of January into February.
Health Services Director Nancy Tausz says although we are well into the flu season, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The flu season can linger into May.
“If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, please come here to either of our clinic sites in Olathe or Mission or your health care provider,” Tausz said. “Even if you get ill, you shouldn’t be as ill as if you didn’t get the flu shot.”
You can also avoid getting the flu by washing your hands often, and avoiding contact with those who have the flu. Disinfecting door handles, television remotes, toys and other surfaces where germs can linger, will help you avoid getting sick.
Health experts say there is a distinction between a cold and flu.
“The flu hits pretty quickly, usually with a high fever and maybe 101-102, and you just feel achy, fatigued; people complain about a really terrific headache,” Tausz said. “With a cold, it’s more gradual and you might have a fever, you might not. If you have the flu, you’ll know it, because it comes on real suddenly.”
If you do come down with the flu, your health care provider may prescribe anti-viral medications.
“If you can start that within 48 hours, that usually helps tremendously,” Tausz said.
You should stay home from work and school to keep others from catching the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most healthy adults with influenza are infectious beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after becoming sick. Johnson County Health Officer, Dr. Joseph LeMaster, supports the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s (KDHE’s) recommendation to stay home from school and child care for seven days, if you receive a diagnosis of influenza from a physician.