Widespread flu continues across Alabama for 4th week

Widespread flu continues across Alabama for 4th week

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama continues to fight though a widespread flu outbreak, which is now entering its first full month.

According to the latest data released by the Alabama Department of Public Health, significant flu activity has been reported in nearly every county.

Here’s a look at the ADPH’s Influenza Surveillance Map through the week of Jan. 5.

ADPH has a list of the top 10 things you can do to fight the flu:

1. Get Vaccinated

  • Call your healthcare provider  or county health department to schedule your seasonal flu vaccination.
  • Seasonal flu vaccine is usually given from October through March each year. Each year the flu vaccine is updated to fight current flu strains.
  • Myth: Receiving the flu shot will make you sick.  Truth: The flu shot is made with an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) and cannot infect anyone.
  • The nasal-spray flu vaccine is made with live, weakened flu viruses.
  • Don’t get flu vaccine if you are allergic to eggs, had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past, developed Guillian-Barré syndrome (GBS), are less than six months of age, or if you have a moderate or severe illness with fever.

2. Wash Your Hands

  1. Wet your hands with warm running water and apply soap. 
  2. Rub hands together to make lather and scrub all surfaces for 20 seconds. 
  3. Rinse hands well under running water. 
  4. Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dryer. 
  5. If possible, use your paper towel to turn off the faucet.

No soap and water? Use alcohol-based hand gel.

  1. Apply gel to palm. 
  2. Rub the gel over all surfaces and fingers until dry.

Wash your hands immediately after:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Using the bathroom
  • Handling garbage, animals, and animal waste
  • Handling dirty dishes, trash, and laundry
  • Being in contact with sick people
  • Touching doorknobs, phones,  etc.

3. Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with either a tissue or your upper sleeve.
  • Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel up to six feet.
  • Avoid crowds and shaking hands  during outbreaks.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

4. Stay Home With Fever

Stay at home when you have a fever of 100 degrees F or higher.

Return to normal social and work activities after you've been fever-free without taking fever reducing medicine for 24 hours.

Other flu symptoms may include:

  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills

5. Stockpile Supplies

Buy one item each time you shop to build a two- to four-week stockpile.

Stockpile supplies should include:

  • Soap and alcohol-based (60%  minimum) hand sanitizer
  • Fever/pain reducer, cold/flu symptom medications, and anti-diarrheal medications
  • Thermometer
  • Prescription medications, medical supplies, and equipment
  • Pedialyte, juices, electrolyte drinks, and bottled water
  • Tissue, paper tissue, and paper towels
  • Household cleaners, bleach, rubber gloves, face masks, garbage bags
  • Non-perishable food that is easy to prepare such as canned soup, granola bars, and crackers
  • Baby food and diapers, if needed
  • Pet food, if needed

6. Clean and Disinfect

  • Frequently wipe surfaces like door knobs, phones, faucet, and food preparation areas with household  disinfectant.
  • Always follow label instruction.
  • Keep disinfectants away from children, pets, heat, flames, and electrical equipment.
  • Don’t share linens, utensils, or dishes without washing first.
  • Avoid “hugging” laundry from a sick person.

7. Know Your Office Emergency Plan

Employees should know their office emergency plan.

An Emergency Plan is also known as a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP), Operations Plan (Op Plan), or Business Strategic Plan.

All organizations should have an emergency plan that addresses critical functions, critical staff, order of succession, vital records, alternate work arrangements, and communications.

Review personnel policies that penalize staff for staying home when they have a fever.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends all employers to assess the flu exposure risk for all employees. The Know Your Emergency Plan (1.8 MB) can assist employers and employees determine risk based on occupation and give examples to reduce exposure risk at work.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), in partnership with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA), recommends all public and private organizations plan and prepare in the case of an emergency, including a pandemic. The purpose of a COOP is to ensure your organization’s essential services continue, assets are protected, and rapid recovery after an emergency event. Please remember the COOP process is a journey, not a destination.

8. Learn Home Care

  • Keep a record of fever, other symptoms, and medications given.
  • Get plenty of rest and drink clear fluids. Clear fluids include water, broth, sports drinks, and electrolyte beverages for infants.
  • Talk to your healthcare  provider about a diabetic sick day plan.
  • If you have been vomiting, wait four hours after vomiting stops to try eating. Eat small amounts of easily digested foods, such as rice, toast, Jell-O, bananas, and apple sauce. Sip  fluids.
  • Read the ingredients and follow the directions on medications to relieve sore throat, stuffy nose, cough, fever, aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under age of 19; use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or  Motrin) as directed.

9. Call Your Doctor If Symptoms Get Worse

For children symptoms include:

  • Fast breathing, trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Extreme irritability
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but  then return with fever and worse cough

For adults symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Pain or pressure in the chest  or abdomen
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but  then return with fever and worse cough

10. Stay Informed

Remember influenza can occur anytime of the year, so stay informed and “do10 Fight the Flu.”

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