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Health Department column: Prevent cold, flu season from spoiling holiday fun

3:16 PM, Dec. 19, 2012  |  Comments
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The De Pere Health Department would like to provide information to help keep your family healthy this flu season.

Influenza is a viral disease that can affect people of all ages and is spread through the air or by touching contaminated surfaces. Generally, persons with influenza feel quite sick. Symptoms may include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. Most people recover in about a week, although a mild cough or fatigue may continue for several more days or longer. Influenza can last longer and cause life-threatening complications in pregnant women, small children, elderly persons and persons with chronic medical conditions.

To protect your family and prevent getting the flu, the De Pere Health Department recommends:

? Stay home when sick.

? Teach your children to wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

? Teach your children to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues or by coughing into the inside of the elbow. Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.

? Stay at least 3 feet away from people who are sick.

? Get an annual influenza vaccine for all family members.

If you or your child develops symptoms of influenza, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine and consult with your physician if you have a medical condition or have other concerns.

Please note, even if you have had the influenza vaccine, you can still become sick. Please continue to monitor your family for symptoms and consult with your physician if you have any concerns.

As most of you may have seen in the news, the influenza season is off to an earlier and more severe start in Wisconsin than during recent seasons. As of earlier this month, 26 individuals statewide have been hospitalized with influenza, and four of those hospitalizations occurred among unvaccinated pregnant women.

Pregnant women with influenza are at a substantially greater risk of hospitalization and death than non-pregnant women. Vaccination against seasonal influenza affords protection to the pregnant woman and also helps to protect her infant for up to six months following birth. This is important because infants less than six months cannot be vaccinated against influenza.

The following link will provide you with current flu information: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.

It is not too late to get your flu vaccine! Call the De Pere Health Department to schedule an appointment at (920) 339-4054. Children 18 and younger are free. Adult flu vaccine is $25.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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