So far there's been just one case of influenza in Marion County. But other southern states have been experiencing higher than normal levels of the flu and that's why health officials say this virus could turn out to be something much bigger.
With mostly mild weather so far this winter, there haven't been too many cases of the flu. But health officials are warning that the virus may just be getting started.
"I think once we see it starting to manifest itself in some of the southern states, just due to travel, I think it's only going to be a matter of time until we see an increase in the number of cases here," said Lloyd White, Administrator of the Marion County Health Department.
Five states that have been cited by health departments for having more flu cases than normal are Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas. Because of that, health officials in our area are encouraging you to get a flu shot if you haven't already.
"Oh, it's never too late to get the flu shot. We would always recommend, whether they come here or go to their private provider, always one of the best defenses is to get the flu vaccination. So, it's never too late," said Lloyd White.
Other than getting a vaccine, washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to avoid picking up and spreading any germs. White said, "Practicing good personal hygiene, minimizing contact with those who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, those kinds of things, all of those will reduce the risk of contracting the flu."
Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and sometimes nausea or vomiting. If you have these signs, you're urged to see a doctor immediately.
"Prevention is the key. There are a lot of things we can do to prevent it, so we should be practicing prevention as best we can," said Lloyd White.
Again, officials it's never too late to get a flu shot. The shot does take two weeks to become fully effective, so the sooner the better, but it's definitely not too late to protect yourself.
The vaccine costs $20 for those 19 and older and is free for children 18 and younger. The Marion County Health Department is holding flu clinics this month between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Anyone over the age of six months who's not allergic to eggs is encouraged to get one.
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