Flu season in full swing across county

Monday, February 18, 2008

With a reported 80 students out sick at Greencastle Middle School Monday, it's not hard to see that the annual flu season is in full swing across Putnam County.

Putnam County Health Officer Dr. Robert Heavin said he thinks the area is experiencing elevated numbers of flu cases this year, compared to last year. The typical flu season can last several weeks and tends to peak before gradually tapering off. He said he believes Putnam County may be experiencing its peak right now.

"I think this is probably one of the higher flu periods," he said. "Although I don't have any scientific research to back that up right now."

Schools across the county are reporting high numbers of students ill and Dr. Heavin believes a lot of them are experiencing symptoms consistent with influenza type A.

Type A is the more severe the two types of flu, Dr. Heavin explained, with sufferers experiencing periods of chills, fever, cough, burning eyes, scratching throat and extreme fatigue. Type B includes the same symptoms but to a lesser degree, he said.

People who contract the flu can expected three to four days of fever, to be followed by four to five days of recovery.

"It's a 10-day illness," Dr. Heavin said.

If you do get sick, doctors suggest staying hydrated with juices, ginger ale and similar beverages, eating soups and getting lots of bed rest. Unfortunately, if you live in a family, you're chances of getting the flu from a family member are greatly increased.

"It goes through families," Dr. Heavin said.

Some tips for reducing your risk of getting sick include frequent handwashing and generally trying to stay away from infected people. If you have the flu, cover your mouth with a cloth or tissue when you cough or sneeze to lessen your chances of spreading the illness.

Dr. Heavin also reminds the public that infants are also vulnerable to the flu and symptoms can be quite severe. Steps should be taken to ensure babies are kept healthy, he said.

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