Five Things to Know About Fighting New Jersey’s Flu Outbreak
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Learn more about how to protect yourself from the flu.
If you have been on the fence or just don’t think it’s a good idea to get a flu shot, maybe you should think again. Here are five things to know so you can protect yourself and your family as the flu season starts to peak:
- The flu is spreading quickly. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 states are now reporting elevated levels of flu activity. New Jersey is new to the list, with the NJ Health Department reporting that flu activity has reached high levels in most areas of the state. Nationally CDC reports:
- 4.6 million illnesses
- 39,000 hospitalizations
- 2,100 deaths, including 22 children
- It’s not too late the get vaccinated, or hard to find a flu shot. While the flu generally peaks in December, the disease can continue until May. The good news is that you can still get a shot now to protect yourself through the end of the season. Horizon members can use their benefits to receive a no-cost flu shot or other immunizations at select pharmacies, as listed here.
- Take steps to protect yourself from getting the flu. In addition to getting the flu shot, it is important to practice good health habits such as regular hand washing, especially before eating, and limiting contact with others when you or they are sick. Also, keep your hands away from your mouth, nose and eyes. Once you touch a contaminated surface, germs can spread easily through mucous membranes to cause an infection.
- Know the symptoms of the flu: The flu shares many of the symptoms of the common cold, such as a sore throat and runny nose. You will recognize your condition as the flu when you develop a sudden fever, aches or pains, weakness or loss of appetite. When you have a cough and a fever together, it’s a good indication that you’ve got the flu. Some people may experience vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
- Treating the flu. If you become a victim of the outbreak, you can still fight back. According to the CDC, antiviral medications are an important adjunct to the flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season. “There is no cure for influenza, but there are effective ways to treat it, especially in its earliest stage,” said Dr. Don Liss, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Horizon BCBSNJ. “Your doctor may be able to prescribe an antiviral medication if you are diagnosed with influenza within a day or two of onset of symptoms. Avoid spreading the flu, or other upper respiratory viral infections, to others, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated if you develop symptoms.”