Flu is widespread in community, state

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Plenty of vaccine still available, district health department reports

By Kelly Cantrall

Flu season is upon us, but it’s not too late to get a vaccination as the virus quickly spreads through the area.

The local influenza level is considered widespread, according to Lincoln Trail District Health Department. It joins the state and the rest of the nation at a similar level of flu activity. Because of the viral spread, health department officials urge residents to receive a flu vaccination.

The health department doesn’t have official numbers of flu cases, said Wendy Keown, public information officer. But the department received reports from doctors’ offices and Hardin Memorial Hospital’s emergency room of being “swamped” with cases.

Keown said it seems many residents are opting to skip the vaccination this year, and she suspects it’s because the flu season was fairly mild last year.

“They’re not taking it seriously,” she said.

But there is plenty of vaccine and it’s beneficial to be inoculated at any point during flu season, which runs to about the end of March. Patients who already had the flu this year still can benefit from a vaccination, which also can make a case of the flu milder if one does become ill.

Symptoms of the flu include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue. But it differs from a cold in that the symptoms come on suddenly and with greater force, Keown said.

“Honestly, it’s almost like you feel like a Mack truck hit you,” she said. Ill individuals generally can continue to work through a cold, but those with the flu won’t feel like continuing with normal routines.

Nate Huggins, assistant superintendent of student and district support services for Elizabethtown Independent Schools, said the district recently has seen a slight drop in attendance.

John Wright, community relations director of Hardin County Schools, said he didn’t think the district’s attendance had been greatly impacted by the flu.

Flu can be spread to others up to 6 feet away. The health department stresses the importance of hand washing and suggests anyone with flu symptoms should stay home.

Complications can arise from the flu, including pneumonia and bronchitis.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.