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Flu cases still on rise in California, the West

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POSTED January 26, 2013 2:42 a.m.

The pounding head. The muscle aches. The fever. The cough that simply won’t go away.

Taken individually they might be manageable. But throw them all together and you’ve got yourself one nasty case of the flu.

You’re not alone.

With what is being considered an “epidemic” nationwide, more people are being affected by the influenza virus across the board this year than in the past few seasons.

Flu activity is declining in most regions although still rising in the West according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

And according to Manteca Unified Director of Health Services Caroline Thibodeau, students throughout the district are verifying the CDC observation – more and more are staying out sick with flu-like symptoms.

While the cases aren’t individually confirmed, Thibodeau said that the numbers that have been coming across her desk have been rising ever since students started back to school on Jan. 9.

It’s a trend that contrasts what the Center of Disease Control and Prevention said Friday when it announced that cases across the country were finally starting to fall after a particularly brutal cold and flu season hit late last year.

But the solution might be simpler than people think.

“Wash your hands,” Thibodeau said. “People will always ask me, ‘What can I do?’ They want to do anything they can to protect their children. But just washing your hands is the best thing you can do to stop the spread of things like this.

“And you want to stay home if you’re ill. If you have a fever don’t come back to work until the fever has been gone for a full 24 hours without taking anything to help the fever go away. It needs to work on its own.”

Most online medical sites will tell you that the best way to overcome the flu will be to get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, and use over-the-counter fever remedies such as Tylenol and Motrin to aid in the process; sometimes even alternating the two.

But Thibodeau warns those who have already gotten a flu shot to not become complacent and think that they’re completely immune.

“Even those that have gotten the vaccine have ended up sick with flu symptoms – fevers of 102 degrees and the muscle aches and everything else that goes with it,” she said. “It might not always be the flu that you come down with. Whooping Cough is still out there. Students entering the sixth grade still have to get the vaccine but it’s still a problem.

“So the best thing to do is be cautious and wash your hands and try and protect yourself.”

In the eyes of Ginger Wick, the nursing program manager for Communicable Diseases and Tuberculosis at the San Joaquin County Department of Public Health, vaccination is the first thing people should seek if they haven’t already been infected with the flu bug.

“It’s never too late to get your first flu shot,” she said. “You also need to be washing your hands and covering your cough – couching into the crook of your arm or into a Kleenex and discarding it.

“And if you’re sick, stay home. We recommend that you not return to work or school until 24 hours after the fever is gone without taking anything to make it go away.”

Wick said that seniors and young children are especially susceptible to the flu, and people should pay close attention because it can cause pneumonia.

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