The city of Middletown is experiencing the worse influenza season in the last 10 years, according to Dr. Joseph Havlicek, Middletown's director of health. It began five weeks earlier than usual.
The flu is widespread in the Middletown community as well as nationwide, and has resulted in crowded emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. The flu season has only begun and will usually run until the first of May.
Havlicek says there many things one can do to protect from the flu virus.
- It is not too late to be vaccinated. It takes about 10 days to become immunized against the influenza virus, and although it is not 100 percent effective, can ameliorate the illness should it develop. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get the vaccine, unless for some reason it is contraindicated. The influenza vaccine is our first line of defense against this virus. The vaccine may be obtained from your primary care doctor, pediatrician, and many of the local pharmacies for those ages 18 and older.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or one of the alcohol based hand sanitizers. The influenza virus can live for 48 hours on surfaces your hands might contact.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as these are the portals of entry for the virus.
- Avoid contact with ill people. If visitation is necessary, wear a paper mask. One might consider avoiding crowded places to cut down on exposure to the virus.
- Cough or sneeze in the crook of your elbow or into a tissue to limit spread of the virus.
Traditional flu like symptoms include fever (usually high), severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles and around the eyes, generalized weakness, ill appearance with warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes, headache, dry cough, sore throat and watery discharge from your nose. Dr. Havlicek advises to seek the treatment of a medical professional within 48 hours as countermeasures are time sensitive.