The beginning of flu season is just around the corner and Oregon County Health Department Director Shiela Russell said now is the time to start considering preventive measures local residents can take to reduce the risk of getting the flu.
"Some years the flu can be severe and widespread as was the case in the 2003-2004 flu season when the Fujian strain hit the United States," she said.
The Oregon County Health Department has been gearing up for the flu season and will be offering flu shots on Oct. 27 at the Alton office on the south side of the square. On Oct. 28 flu shots will be given at Thayer at the Thayer Health Department Office located at second and Market Street above the Thayer Library.
"Medicare will be accepted this year as well as self-pay, which will be $20, the same as last year," Russell said.
The flu is spread mainly from person to person through coughing and sneezing. "Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before they start showing symptoms until five days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to pass the flu to someone, also, before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick," she said.
The health department nurse said symptoms of the flu include:
* Fever (usually high)
* Extreme tiredness
* Dry cough
* Runny or stuffy nose
* Muscle aches.
Some preventative steps a person can take as an individual to reduce the spread of the flu include:
* Wash hands often using soap and water.
* Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes.
* Sneeze or cough into a tissue, promptly throw away any used tissues and wash your hands.
* Use an antiviral disinfectant to clean surfaces.
* Get enough sleep and avoid stress.
* Drink plenty of fluids.
* Eat a balanced diet.
* Get the flu shot if available.
* Stay home if ill.
For further information contact the Oregon County Health Department at 417-778-7450 at Alton, Monday through Friday or at Thayer at 417-778-3114, Tuesday and Wednesday.