Flu cases are surging throughout Riverside County, prompting public health officials Thursday to urge residents to take precautions aimed at prevention, including getting vaccinated.
“It’s a rough season, and there’s no indication it’s slowing down, so the best way to protect yourself is to get the flu shot,” county Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said, adding there’s no shortage of vaccination supplies countywide. “It takes just a few minutes and can save you a lot of misery.”
According to Riverside University Health System Director of Disease Control Barbara Cole, about 1,000 residents tested positive in December for influenza at urgent care and county public health clinics, as well as during doctor visits — a sizable documented number this early into flu season.
Cole said there have been four flu-related deaths, one involving a child under 5 years old.
Seventeen residents over 65 had to be hospitalized because of compromised immune systems and other factors, she said.
Health officials pointed out that the harsher “B” strain of flu is prevalent — a change from the past, when the cyclical “A” strain affected the widest number of patients in the first months of flu season, which starts in early fall and ends in April or May.
Vaccinations are not guaranteed bulwarks against the virus. In previous years, the county received stocks of shots that were not effective in combating some strains.
According to Cole, frequent hand-washing and “social distancing” are sure methods to avoid contracting the flu, which is passed through droplets from a sick person’s cough or sneeze.
Influenza is a respiratory illness marked by fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, head and body aches. Vomiting and diarrhea are also known to occur. Officials said drinking plenty of fluids, getting plenty of rest and taking over-the-counter products like Tylenol are helpful in recovery, which can take a few days to several weeks, depending on the patient.
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