Kitsap County health officials say influenza is on the rise in Kitsap, with five flu-related deaths reported to the Kitsap Public Health District since November.
The flu can cause days of fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. And in some cases, the flu leads to death.
“We want to express our sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones,” said Dr. Susan Turner, Health Officer for Kitsap Public Health. “We also want to remind those in higher risk groups to contact their doctor right away if they begin to feel symptoms of the flu. Prompt antiviral treatment can be lifesaving.”
Health officials note that even healthy people can become seriously sick or die from the flu, and influenza sends thousands of people to the hospital every year.
The flu can cause serious illness or hospitalization for some people, especially those in these higher risk groups including seniors; children under the age of 5; pregnant women; people with diabetes, asthma, heart disease, extreme obesity, weakened immune systems or other chronic medical conditions; residents of long-term care facilities; and American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Health officials warn that people in higher risk groups who develop flu symptoms should contact their healthcare provider right away.
Antiviral medications taken within a day or two after the flu symptoms start can help people at higher risk avoid complications, including pneumonia, hospitalization and death.
People who have no underlying chronic health conditions and are not among the high-risk groups can usually treat themselves and family members, including children, at home by getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.
• Get the flu shot;
• Wash hands often, especially before touching eyes, nose and mouth or eating;
• Stay at home if sick, and if asked, wear a mask; and
• Cover coughs and sneezes with elbow or tissue.
For more information on influenza in Kitsap County, visit www.kitsappublichealth.org.