This will not be a surprise to anyone on Guam. There's lots of influenza and colds going around this year.
The Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services encourages residents to protect themselves and their loved ones during the flu season. Flu is a highly contagious viral disease. It is primarily spread by person to person contact via coughing or sneezing. Flu symptoms include: cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, fever, chills, and body aches.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks flu cases every week. After increased numbers of flu cases are seen for several weeks, flu season is said to have started.
Increases in flu activity show that the 2018-2019 influenza season has started across the U.S. The CDC's most recent FluView report is available at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/#S4 .
On Guam, data shows an increased number of flu cases during the month of December 2018 with 169 flu cases reported in the first 3 weeks of the month. Last year, Guam's flu season began earlier in September 2017 with 169 cases. This means that Guam is now having widespread flu activity.
Residents of Guam should be aware of ways to prevent the spread of influenza as well as protect themselves and their families.
Flu prevention tips:
1. Get vaccinated.
A yearly flu shot is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. It is not too late to get a flu shot for yourself and for your loved ones.Vaccination is especially important for protecting those at high risk for serious flu complications, including: young children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older, and anyone with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
2. Stop the spread. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Stay home when you are sick. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
3. Take medicine.
CDC recommends prompt treatment with flu antiviral medications for people who are at high risk of developing serious flu complications when they get the flu: the very young, the very old, the pregnant women, and those with underlying illnesses like heart conditions and lung problems.
Some people who are very sick with the flu have symptoms like shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, chest pain, very high and persistent fevers and ear pain. Those are the things that should lead parents or the individual to go see their doctor where they may be prescribed antiviral medications. Use medication as recommended by your doctor to treat the flu.
All health care providers are urged to review and update the immunization status of all patients they see. If vaccination is contraindicated because of illness, a follow-up appointment should be scheduled to update vaccination as soon as the illness is over.
For more information, please call your primary health care provider or the DPHSS Immunization Program at 735-7143.