DOBSON — Although local officials say there has been “very little activity” thus far in this year’s flu season, federal officials are saying they expect an unpredictable year, so precautions should be taken.
Flu season typically peaks in January and February, but it can begin as early as October and run until May, according to Flu.gov.
And local health officials say they really don’t know what kind of season it’s going to be.
“We’re just getting started on the flu season this year, so it’s really up in the air what may happen as far as the prevalence and severity of this year’s flu,” said Thomas Williams, spokesman for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center.
According to Jessica Jessup, assistant director of nursing for the Health and Nutrition Center, her department doesn’t know what this year’s flu is going to look like at this point.
“We haven’t seen hardly any cases at all this year,” she said. “And we haven’t received any notifications from the state or federal governments about this year’s flu yet.”
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming, and Williams said anyone who thinks they have the flu should stay away from others to help avoid its spread.
“If you get the flu and you’re sick, one of the best things you can do is stay home to help prevent its spread,” he said, noting that people with the flu don’t want to go out anyway.
“Getting the flu can give you that feeling of being knocked off your feet,” he said. “So just rest.”
Williams said the flu can typically take five to seven days before going away, so rest is important.
But there are things Surry County residents can do to lessen their chances of contracting the flu.
Both local and federal officials say the single best way to prevent contracting the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination.
“We recommend that everyone gets the flu vaccine,” Jessup said. “That’s definitely the best way to prevent it from spreading.”
Flu vaccines are especially critical for high-risk individuals like young children; pregnant women; people with conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung diseases; and people over the age of 65.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), simple actions can help prevent the flu or make it less severe.
• Avoid close contact. Echoing local health officials, the CDC recommends keeping away from others to help prevent the spread of the flu.
• Cover your mouth and nose. When you cough or sneeze, covering your mouth and nose is more than just polite. It can prevent others from catching the flu.
• Wash your hands well and often. Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 30 seconds. If you don’t have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs can get into your body if you have them on your hands and touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
• Practice good health habits. Simple things like getting plenty of sleep, staying physically active, watching your stress levels, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods can help your body fight off this year’s flu strain.
But Jessup said that if you get the flu, a visit to a doctor’s office is always a good idea if you think you need it.
“We want to encourage that as well,” she said. “Anyone who feels like they need to see a physician should see a physician.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.