• Last modified 3886 days ago (Dec. 30, 2008)


Flu season comes to Kansas

Not too late for vaccination

Staff writer

The first verified case of influenza recently was identified in Kansas, according to Kansas Department of Health and Environment. There has not been a confirmed case of influenza yet in Marion County, but it is predicted to be a worse than average flu season.

Influenza, which is also called the flu, is a viral respiratory infection. It should not be confused with what many people call the stomach flu, Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene said. About 36,000 people die from the flu every year in the U.S.

Flu season can begin as early as October and can last until March, Serene said. The 2007-08 flu season was particularly bad.

“It’s never too late to be vaccinated,” said Dr. Randy Claassen of Hillsboro. “The vaccine works in a short time.”

The health department has about 160 vaccines left of the 1,000 it had to start the season. Physicians’ offices also may have vaccines still available.

Dr. Don Hodson of Marion Family Physicians said he hadn’t seen any suspicious cases yet.

“I’ve worked here 20 years, and I don’t think the flu has gotten here before Christmas more than two or three times,” Hodson said.

Claassen said he had seen a couple of suspicious cases, but both tested negative for influenza.

Symptoms of influenza include cold-like symptoms and high fever, extreme tiredness, and muscle aches.

If someone suspects they have the flu, they should visit a physician, said Dr. Linda Skiles of St. Luke Physician Clinic of Marion. The very young, very old, and anyone in contact with them especially need to see a doctor if they suspect the flu. Antiviral medications can help people recover from the flu sooner, but they are only effective if administered early, Claassen said.

Keeping hydrated is important for someone with the flu, Skiles said.

Most importantly, people with influenza should stay home from work or school to avoid spreading the disease.

“People think they’re doing their employer a favor by working when they’re sick,” Serene said. “They aren’t. They’re just going to get other people sick.”

Who should be vaccinated?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends certain groups be vaccinated against the flu every year.

They are:

  • Children ages 6 months through 18 years.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People 50 years of age and older.
  • People with certain chronic illnesses.
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, household contacts of people at high risk for complications from the flu, and household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children less than 6 months old.

Some people should not be vaccinated without consulting with a physician.

They are:

  • People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
  • People who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine before.
  • Children less than 6 months old.
  • People with a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to be vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.

Last modified Dec. 30, 2008