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FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 8, 2018) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Influenza Season report for week two of 2018 – ending Jan. 13 – seasonal influenza activity increased again in the United States. All states except Hawaii reported “widespread” flu activity. The Influenza Surveillance Activity Levels are: "No activity," "Sporadic," "Local," "Regional" and "Widespread."

In addition, the proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza-like-illness is 6.3 percent, which remains above the national baseline of 2.2 percent for the 8th week in a row and is the highest ILI percentage recorded since the 2003-2004 season. Influenza A viruses are most commonly reported and have been the predominant virus so far this season.

Virginia Department of Health 2017-2018 Influenza Surveillance Activity Level is "Widespread" for the 8th week in a row. Not surprisingly, information from Electronic Surveillance System for Early Notification of local community-based epidemics for the Metro Richmond area reveals the general Fort Lee TRICARE beneficiary population also is experiencing an increase in influenza activity. This mirrors the level noted by the VDH and CDC. The exception is an increase of influenza activity is not occurring among the vaccinated active duty service member population on the installation.

Recommendations

Flu vaccine is the best available way to protect against influenza. CDC, VDH and Kenner Army Health Clinic recommend that everyone 6 months and older get an injectable flu vaccine as soon as possible.

The following are everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep

from infecting them.

• If sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that people stay home for at least 24 hours after their fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)

• Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.

• Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. For details, visit https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/ and https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm>.

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

• Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

• If ill with the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat the illness.

• Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.

• Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time people are sick. They also may prevent serious flu complications. For people with high-risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.

• Studies show flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health condition or is very sick from the flu. Follow the doctor's instructions for taking this drug.

• Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.

The clinics and hours available for flu vaccines are: Wilkerson Pediatric Clinic, 7:30-11 a.m. and 1-3:15 p.m. For information call (804) 734-9176; Family Medicine Clinic, 7:30-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. For information, call (804) 734-9993; and Active Duty Clinic, 7-11 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. For information, call (804) 734-9057.