Letters for 12-18-2014

Stay Healthy This Season
According to the Centers for Disease Control, and local observation, flu and cold season are in full swing. And, unfortunately, here in Louisiana is one of the hot spots for influenza-like illnesses.
People have already begun to miss work and school in our area, and residents need to be careful to take care of themselves now so they have the best chance of preventing catching the flu or cold viruses.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, in addition to a large spike in flu virus activity, the United States is also experiencing a nationwide outbreak of Enterovirus D68 associated with severe respiratory disease.
Unfortunately, flu season normally peaks in January or February, which means this could be the start of a nasty flu year. The CDC says it is not too late to get the flu shot, even well into January. Though, since the flu shot takes approximately two weeks to get into your system, it is suggested that residents take it as soon as possible.
Everyone 6 months of age or older is encouraged to get the flu vaccine, with special emphasis on individuals with high risk of flu-related complications such as those with asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; small children; pregnant women and people age 65 or older.
The flu vaccine is considered by experts to be the most effective way to prevent the flu, but residents should also follow good hygiene procedures to further prevent catching the flu, as well as other viruses such as colds and stomach flues.
The CDC recommends that residents avoid close contact with sick people, even if youíre not sure they have the flu, as many cold-weather illnesses can be transmitted easily. They also recommend that those who are sick take responsibility and limit their contact with others, staying home for at least 24 hours after any fever is gone except for medical care or other necessities.
With the incidence of these illnesses being so high right now, itís important that we all act responsibly by covering our noses and mouths when sneezing or coughing, washing our hands and following other good practices. If we all work together, perhaps we can prevent this huge flu spike from turning into an epidemic.