The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today reports that influenza has been on the increase over the past two weeks. Nine cases of flu have been confirmed in Lancaster County, and many people have flu-like illness. LLCHD also reports that an outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) continues. Both illnesses are spread through coughing and sneezing in close contact with others. Both can cause more serious illness in the very young (especially infants), the very old and those with chronic health conditions.
"We strongly recommends that those at risk for serious illness from these infections, reduce their risk of exposure," said Health Director Judy Halstead. "They should avoid crowds and being in close contact with others who have a cough or flu symptoms. Parents should be sure children have their pertussis and annual flu immunizations. Adults should have at least one adult pertussis immunization since childhood and an annual flu immunization."
To reduce the risk of getting or spreading these illnesses, these practices are recommended:
Influenza is a highly infectious disease of the lungs that can cause mild to severe illness. The primary method for preventing influenza is a flu shot, and antibodies that protect against the flu virus develop about two weeks after vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months and older. While some of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce serious complications.
Flu vaccination is especially important for those at high risk of having serious complications:
It is also important for those who live with or care for people at high risk to get vaccinated. This includes health care workers, household contacts and caregivers of children under age five, especially those under six months of age who are at high risk but are too young to get vaccinated.
Those needing a flu immunization should contact their health care providers or find a community flu immunization location. Those needing help obtaining a vaccination can call LLCHD at 402-441-8065. For more information, visit lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: flu).