More flu cases reported in Eau Claire Co., statewide

More information from the health department:

• Influenza is a respiratory illness. Signs and symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills, and fatigue. A fever, diarrhea, and vomiting may or may not accompany the other symptoms.

• You need a flu shot each year. A flu shot from a previous flu season does not provide protection this flu season.

• In addition to getting a flu shot, you can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy, and avoiding others who are ill.

• To protect others if you are ill, cover your coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently, and stay home until 24 hours after your fever is gone.

• Medication does exist that can lessen the symptoms of influenza. If you suspect that you have influenza and are in a high-risk group, contact your health care provider. High-risk individuals include children age 2 and younger, adults age 65 and older, pregnant women, and persons with long-term chronic conditions.

• Although flu shots are not 100% effective, you are much less likely to have severe symptoms or complications if you should get the flu.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A health department is urging the community to get flu shots as it's seeing an increase in flu cases.

On Friday, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department announced that laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza are on the rise locally and throughout the state. It says the strain that appears to be circulating is A strain H1N1, which is included in the current flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age six months and older gets vaccinated.

Health departments are warning about the flu virus spreading with more cases being reported.

Flu cases have spread throughout the country with more young adults getting sick this year, according to the centers for disease control.

“H1N1 is one that we have seen a lot of people hospitalized and a lot of significant illness,” Eau Claire City County Health Director Lieske Giese said.

“It can impact anybody, so really every age can get influenza and we do see it. Those people who have chronic conditions, the very young and the very old often get sicker.”

“Flu is not the stomach flu. Flu is actually a respiratory disease, so a breathing disease. So people with a really significant cough, and breathing difficulties, high fevers, body aches that are very significant.”

Giese said flu shots and washing hands are the most important steps to take to avoid contracting or spreading the flu.

“Our first push is always to get vaccinated. It's not too late. Really, if anybody gets vaccinated, they will be protected during the worst time of our season. Because that always happens sometime after Jan.”

She said for anyone with severe symptoms, it's important to know when to stay home.

“Certainly people that are working in professions where they can expose significant populations of people we really encourage to stay home. It's better for them and it's better for the people around them if they stay home from work and while that may be really tough in the short term, in the long term, it makes a huge difference,” she said.

The Eau Claire School District said it has not seen many cases so far.

Flu shots are available at clinics and pharmacies throughout the community. For a list of clinic dates and times at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, call the Flu Line at (715) 839-6061 or click on the link on the right side of this story. To find other places within the community to get flu shots, call 2-1-1.

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