After a slow start in this state, seasonal flu is finally hitting Florida in a big way. Not only are the numbers of people testing positive for the influenza virus rising in the state, but so are the cases of pneumonia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Florida is among 31 states reporting widespread flu activity this season.
Experts think the numbers are actually higher than reported because there is a lag time of 1 to 2 weeks between patients going to see their doctor and a identification of the virus in a lab.
The influenza virus is transmitted when a non-infected individual breathes in tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected individual or touches something with the virus on it and then touches their own nose, mouth or eyes.
Symptoms appear within 1 to 7 days (typically 2 to 3 days) and include high fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, body aches, extreme fatigue, and headache.
Between day 2 and 4 of the illness, the body aches and fever may start to wane, but other symptoms including dry cough, sore throat, runny nose often appear.
These symptoms (except the cough) usually disappear within 4 to 7 days. Sometimes, the fever returns. The cough and feeling of fatigue can last for weeks.
Most people get over the flu within a few weeks with only symptomatic treatment (acetaminophen to reduce the fever, cough drops for sore throat, plenty of liquids and rest).
Unfortunately some will go on to develop complications such as pneumonia or brain infections (meningitis or encephalitis).
Each year about 36,000 people die from seasonal flu. Children under age 2, seniors over age 65, pregnant women, and anyone with compromised immune systems or underlying chronic illnesses including diabetes, heart, kidney,or lung disease are especially vulnerable.
That’s why it’s important for everyone to get the flu vaccine. While it can not absolutely guarantee that you won’t get infected with the virus (the vaccine is said to be 60 to 80 percent effective), those who have been vaccinated typically have very mild cases and recover quickly.
For information about the flu vaccine and where to get it in Florida, check out this website