Influenza activity declining locally
Seasonal influenza activity continues in the U.S. but is declining in most areas. In Kansas, activity levels are low in comparison to what other states are seeing.
This information comes from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) most recent report, which was updated the week of Jan. 7. This report tracks the spread of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) defines ILI activity as a fever higher than 100 degrees and the presence of a cough and/or sore throat.
The main strain circulating in Kansas appears to be Influenza A/H1N1, according to the site, which monitors strains of influenza that are circulating in the state.
According to local doctors, there has been a decline in influenza activity and COVID cases.
“Here locally, we are seeing a general decline in the number of influenza cases when compared to a month ago. However, it is still very present within the population,” said Dr. Chris Tramp. “COVID infections continue to ‘smolder’ so to speak. Local case numbers have been somewhat variable week to week but overall low and manageable.”
This flu season has been unique in timing and hopefully it is winding down.
“This season has been unique in that influenza impacted us earlier than usual and also occurred simultaneously with an atypical Fall spike of RSV and the continued presence of COVID,” Dr. Tramp said. “We are hopeful that we are through the worst of it, but time will tell. Folks should continue to stay aware, monitor their health closely and seek medical care if needed.”
Flu symptoms, which often start suddenly rather than gradually, include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is most common in children. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever. Complications can include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections and dehydration. Influenza may also worsen other chronic conditions.
Anyone with a fever for more than 24 to 48 hours — especially with considerations due to age, severity of other symptoms or other medical problems — should contact a healthcare professional.
COVID symptoms range from mild to severe illness and symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms reported have a wide range including fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms. Symptoms may change with new variants and can vary depending on vaccination status.
Seek emergency medical care immediately if you experience trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds, depending on skin tone.
According to KDHE, common practices people should take to avoid getting or spreading influenza include covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze, washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick.
The influenza vaccine also is strongly recommended for nearly all persons six months of age or older. Infants less than six months of age are too young to be vaccinated and are more vulnerable to the complications from influenza.
Being vaccinated against influenza is especially important for anyone at high risk of complications, and for anyone who is caring for children younger than five years of age. It’s also important for persons caring for those with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications.
KDHE advises that getting tested is critical in stopping the spread of COVID-19, so you should test before you visit loved ones. Other ways to minimize risk is to cover coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue, wash hands frequently with soap and water, or use sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including phones, keyboards, doorknobs, handles and light switches. Distance yourself when in public, especially if you are in a high-risk category. KDHE recommends wearing a snuggly fitted mask when in public and getting vaccinated.