Q: Who’s considered high-risk for seasonal and H1N1 influenza, making them first in line for a vaccine?
A: Infants and young children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, people of any age with lung disease (including asthma), heart disease, weakened immune systems from cancer, HIV or immunosuppressive medications, people with kidney disease, diabetes or neurological and neuromuscular diseases, people under 19 with diseases requiring long-term aspirin therapy, and people with other chronic diseases.
Q: What signals suggest a person may need to seek treatment?
A: For children: difficulty breathing or fast breathing, bluish or gray skin color, fever lasting more than three days, dehydration (no urination in 12 hours), severe or persistent vomiting, not waking up or not interacting, high irritability, not wanting to be held. Also, flu-like symptoms improving but then returning with fever and worse cough. For adults: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion or increasing lethargy (sluggishness), severe or persistent vomiting, persistent fever and cough.
Q: What kind of treatment should I seek? Is a seasonal flu shot recommended?
A: Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu are recommended for all people hospitalized with a flu-related illness. For antiviral medications to be most beneficial in treating flu illnesses, they should be started within 48 hours of onset. People without chronic conditions or who are not in a high-risk group and are tolerating the flu without the warning signs listed above should not take Tamiflu. People should get seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccinations when made available.
Q: How can I avoid getting the flu?
A: Frequently wash your hands, cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm rather than uncovered or in your hand, avoid people with respiratory illness, stay home from work or school when sick, and return only after fever has subsided for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medication.
For more, call 877/462-2911 or visit colorado.gov/nofluforyou.
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment