MESQUITE, Nev. – The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting a 19 percent increase in flu activity in Clark County over the same period last year, and officials fear an increase during the holiday season.
“During the holiday season people travel more often, are in social settings, may be under more stress and not have the time to practice healthy habits,” Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, said in a press statement.
“These factors, coupled with an increase in flu activity, make now the time to get a flu shot so everyone can have a healthy and happy holiday season.”
So far, there have been 31 confirmed flu cases and one flu-related death in the district.
Washoe County, Nevada, on the western border of Nevada, recently reported a high number of laboratory-confirmed cases and a number of deaths associated with pneumonia and flu, making it likely Clark County will continue to see an increase in flu activity, officials said.
It is not too late to get vaccinated; the Health District is recommending flu shots for everyone 6 months and older. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to be fully protected against the flu.
Every year seasonal flu viruses cause substantial illness and death, much of which could be prevented. Health officials encourage everyone to get flu vaccinations, especially those at high risk of complications from the flu, including children younger than 5, adults 65 years of age and older and pregnant women. Children younger than 2 are at the highest risk.
Many seasonal flu-related deaths occur one or two weeks after a person’s initial infection due to a secondary infection such as bacterial pneumonia, or the flu may aggravate an existing medical condition, such as congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
It is not certain how many people die from seasonal flu each year, because states are not required to report flu cases or deaths of people older than 18 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that from the 1976-77 season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-associated deaths ranged from a low of approximately 3,000 to a high of about 49,000.
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, health officials said, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Also follow these tips:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or direct it into your sleeve. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
The Health District reported its first flu-related death in Clark County for the 2016-2017 season in late October.
The Mesquite Public Health Center is located at 830 Hafen Lane in Mesquite. Vaccinations are offered Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m.
For information about public health clinics offering flu shots in Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver and Garfield counties in Utah, see: Cold and flu season; not too late for immunizations
Ed. note: Viewpoints vary on the wisdom of vaccinations and immunization; analysis of the topic is beyond the scope of this report.