Oakland County Health Division reminds residents to keep flu at home

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson joins Oakland County Health Division to remind residents to take action against the spread of flu this holiday season. A recent increase in hospitalized flu cases in Oakland County prompted the reminder.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has upgraded flu activity in the state from "sporadic" to the next higher level of "local," reflecting recent increases in confirmed influenza cases. Influenza A and B strains are circulating, with most cases being Influenza A/H1N1, and showing increases statewide.

"We advise individuals to stay home if they are sick over the holidays instead of visiting family. Also, seek medical advice at the first signs of illness," said Kathy Forzley, Health Division manager/health officer.

The H1N1 strain has the potential to affect adults 20- to 50-years-old more severely. This age group, however, is less likely to get a flu shot which is essential to protect against the illness. The H1N1 strain is covered by this year's flu shot.

"Anyone can get the flu, even if you are healthy," Forzley said. "Those who smoke, have asthma or diabetes, or are overweight may have more complications from the flu."

Flu can be spread to others up to about six feet away, mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth. Washing hands often with soap and water is a proactive way to avoid this. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

The flu usually comes on suddenly and can cause mild to severe illness, and at times lead to death. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

* Fever or feeling feverish with chills.

* Cough.

* Sore throat.

* Runny or stuffy nose.

* Muscle or body aches.

* Headaches.

* Fatigue (tiredness).

* Some may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children.

Flu shots are available for $20 at Health Division offices from noon to 8 p.m. Monday and 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Offices are located at 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, Pontiac, and 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield. Offices will be closed Dec. 24, 25, 31, and Jan. 1 for the holidays.

Residents can pre-register at www.oakgov.com/health and print out a consent form to bring to the clinic where they are pre-enrolled. Online payment options include Visa, MasterCard, Medicare, and/or Medicaid. Credit card fees apply. One may also pay cash at the time of the appointment. Those who are unable to register online may call 248-858-7350 or 248-424-7120.

For more information about flu, visit www.oakgov.com/health, contact the Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533, or follow the Health Division on Facebook and Twitter @publichealthOC.

Published: Tue, Dec 24, 2013