Flu season is in full swing around the country, and residents in Macon County are certainly not exempt. According to Dianne Lakey, with Angel Medical Center's Infection Prevention, from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, Angel Medical Center received a number of positive lab confirmations of the flu.
“There have been a total of 76 positive lab confirmed cases seen in our ER,” said Lakey. “This number does not reflect the cases being seen in MD office practices, Angel Urgent Care or patients with symptoms who may not have been tested.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
People who have the flu often feel some or all of the signs and symptoms which include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and some experience vomiting and diarrhea, though it is more common in children than in adults.
The CDC reports that most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that is contaminated with the flu virus and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
In several occasions, people spread the flu before they are even aware they have contracted the illness. Healthy adults are able to infect others from day one before symptoms even develop, and remain contagious for up to seven days after becoming sick. Individuals with a weakened immune system, including young children and older adults, are able to infect others beyond the seven days.
Individuals with the highest risk of contracting the flu include children younger than five, but especially children younger than two-years-old, adults 65 years of age or older, pregnant women, American Indians and Alaskan Natives and people with pre-existing medical conditions, according to the CDC.
With the flu being easily spread, AMC is taking all necessary precautions to prevent as many people from contracting the sickness as possible. According to Lakey, AMC currently has visitor limitations and are implementing restrictions for those entering the hospital which include:
1. Do not visit if YOU are sick.
2. Children under the age of 12 ARE NOT allowed to visit since they are the most susceptible to contract or carry the flu.
3. Visit only if you are the immediate family or the patient’s caregiver.
4. Wash your hands frequently, always before and after every visit.
Angel Medical Center is still offering flu shots to the public at the outpatient department at the hospital. Shots are available Monday through Friday from 1 until 3 p.m., with no appointment needed, at a cost of $25.