Hardly a day goes by that we don’t learn about additional flu deaths in the U.S. – this season seems particularly harsh, and Wyoming is not immune.

During the past few weeks, our state continued to experience a high rate of hospitalizations and other impacts from the flu, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).  At least one child has passed because of the flu, and about 10 Wyoming adults have died this season. Nationally, more than 80 children have died from flu-related complications.

Healthy, young adults are susceptible to this year’s strain as well, such as a 21-year-old Pennsylvania man who recently died.  In some cases, these flu-related deaths are caused by sepsis, a complication after an infection, which “occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammatory responses throughout the body,” according to the Mayo Clinic.  The inflammation can trigger organ failure and lead to death.

The Flu, Symptoms, and Pregnancy

Influenza A — specifically H3N2 — is most prevalent and severe. However another flu strain, H1N1, has also popped up in several areas around the country. “The CDC has called the 2017-2018 flu an epidemic,” according to an article in Time Magazine. Flu symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue. Seeing a doctor within the first 48 hours and receiving medication, such as Tamiflu may reduce the duration and severity of your illness.

Even people who received the vaccination this year may get this strain of flu. According to one source, only about 15 to 32 percent of people vaccinated have actually been protected. Still the CDC recommends getting a flu shot if you haven’t already. Women who are pregnant are highly encouraged to get the vaccine by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “Pregnant women are at particularly high risk of severe illness and complications from influenza disease,” the organization states. According to the March of Dimes, “complications from the flu, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly, especially if you’re pregnant. If you get the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications…”

How to Help Prevent the Flu

All this sound very scary.  Remember that, in spite of all the tragic stories we are hearing, most people who get the flu will spend a few days at home feeling miserable and then recover with no complications.  To be on the safe side, there are a few precautions you can take to reduce your risk of getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Use hand sanitizer between washes.
  • Don’t touch your hands, eyes, or mouth unless you’ve just washed your hands.
  • Don’t use public water fountains.
  • Clean your home thoroughly – the flu virus can live on surfaces 24 hours.
  • Get vaccinated.
  • If you are sick, STAY HOME! Help prevent the spreading of the sickness. And, visit a doctor early

Take care of yourself and those you love during this flu season!