Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 4, 2014

Flu season: Protect yourself now


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — Health officials say a strain of the flu that put many people in the hospital just a few years ago is on the rise again in West Virginia.

The H1N1 virus, which is more commonly known as the “swine flu,” is the predominant strain circulating now, Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department told the Associated Press earlier this week. The H1N1 virus  particularly affects young and middle-aged people.

Those who haven’t received a flu shot yet should consider doing so now.

The flu is currently widespread in Virginia and is considered sporadic in West Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC is advising that anyone 6 months and older who has not gotten a flu vaccine yet this season should get one.

The flu virus also is on the rise in Mercer County, according to health officials.

“It was a slow start to the season,” Dr. Kathy Wides, public health officer for Mercer County, said earlier this week. “And now it’s making up the difference. I saw 12 cases in Princeton on my last shift, me and a nurse practitioner. It might be a bad season, and it’s not too late to get your flu shot.”

Health officials believe flu activity in the region will continue to rise in the next few weeks. They stress it is not too late to get a flu shot. But you should get one now because even after you are inoculated, it still takes about two weeks for an individual to develop an immunity to the flu. The dangerous H1N1 strain is included in this year’s flu vaccine.

Flu symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, a runny or stuffy nose, or headache. The symptoms can be severe.

The flu can be especially serious for babies, children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older and people with certain long-term medical conditions, including lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes, or those with weak immune systems, according to health officials.

However, even healthy people can get the flu and should protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine every year. 

If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now would be the time to do so.

While it may be perceived as an inconvenience to some, getting a flu shot is truly the best way to protect yourself, your family and your loved ones this winter. Play it safe this winter and consider a flu shot.