As the flu spreads across the state and the number of locals with symptoms increases, there are still ways to prevent contracting or spreading the virus.
Influenza was reported in all eight Connecticut counties between Aug. 17 and Dec. 23, 2017, according to the Jan. 2 weekly update from the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
In the state during that time frame, there were 536 influenza-positive laboratory tests reported, 209 patients hospitalized with laboratory-confirmed influenza and three influenza-associated deaths in individuals greater than 65 years of age, according to the update.
Donna Morris, infection preventionist and safety/emergency preparedness coordinator at Bristol Hospital, explained that the flu has been classified by the state public health department as “widespread” since December. That means the flu is traced throughout most of the state, she said.
Practitioners at Bristol Hospital has been seeing an increasing number of people with flu like-symptoms but not a lot of admissions, which is typical, Morris explained. Those symptoms include fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue, she noted.
The hospital tests patients for flu type-A and flu type-B, which are different strands of the virus with similar symptoms, Morris explained.
“The majority of what we are seeing is flu-A. There are some cases of flu-B,” she said.
Morris pointed out that prevention is key, and an effective way to do so is with a vaccine.
Flu vaccines make “a big difference” and will be available, and still effective, from now until March, she explained.
“Not all vaccines are 100 percent effective, but partial immunity is better than no immunity,” she said.
The simplest ways to prevent contracting or spreading the virus is with proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, Morris explained.
Respiratory etiquette means properly covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing and staying home when feeling symptomatic, Morris said. This is especially important when visiting the hospital, she added.
“We want you to visit loved ones here in the hospital, but sometimes it’s better to wait to prevent spreading the virus,” she said.
If it is essential for someone to visit the hospital while experiencing symptoms, it is important to wear a mask, she added.
Flu shots are available at pharmacies and walk-in clinics around the city, or by appointment with a physician.