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Fifth Flu-Related Death Reported in Kent County


GRAND RAPIDS – The Kent County Health Department received notification today of a fifth flu-related death: a man from Kent County over the age of 50. The initial test confirms the man was suffering from Influenza A/H1N1, the predominant strain people have been catching this season. The health department has no medical history on the man, so it is unclear if there were any known underlying medical conditions in this case.

“Health care providers report a leveling-off of cases of flu-like illness in recent weeks, but we still need to practice prevention,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department.

“In some years, we see flu season peaks as late as March. If you are suffering from the symptoms, consider seeking help from a health care provider, and stay home until you recover.” Kent County had five known flurelated deaths in the 2009-2010 season, the initial year that the H1N1 strain was circulating. There were no deaths reported in Kent County in 2012-2013.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). If you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. It takes 10 – 14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. This is why you often hear people wrongly claim that they got the flu from the flu shot. Multiple studies have confirmed that the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. People can, however, become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10 – 14 days before their immunity develops.

Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. Vaccines start at $25 for injection, and $33 for FluMist nasal spray. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Flu information is also available on our information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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H1N1 detected in three recent deaths


 

From the Kent County Health Department

Testing has confirmed three recent deaths in people over the age of 50 in Kent County who were suffering from influenza A (H1N1) virus. Two of the individuals also had other known medical complications; we do not have a medical history yet on the third person. There are over 400 reported flu cases in Kent County so far this season, and of those reported, at least 26 people have been hospitalized.

“In two of these cases, we are certain there were additional underlying medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “We have seen, in other parts of the state, healthy young adults are becoming extremely ill from H1N1, as well as several deaths.”

In late December, the CDC issued an advisory, noting an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to H1N1 this year.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. The influenza vaccine this year is highly effective protection against the flu, including H1N1. The CDC recently reported that the influenza vaccination prevented approximately 6.6 million illnesses and 79,000 hospitalizations last year. It is critically important that people get a flu shot now. It takes 10—14 days after receiving the vaccination for a person to develop immunity. This is why you often hear people wrongly claim that they got the flu from the flu shot.

Multiple studies have confirmed that the flu vaccine does not cause influenza. People can, however, become ill from exposure to contagious people during those 10–14 days before their immunity develops. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). If you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. Vaccines start at $25 for injection, and $33 for FluMist nasal spray. Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com. Flu information is also available on our information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Flu cases rising in Kent County


 

 

Flu cases are rising in Kent County, and the Kent County Health Department urges parents to make sure their family is protected against the flu by getting vaccinated.

The KCHD said that we have not yet reached the peak of flu season, and the number of cases continues to rise. There are 324 reported flu cases in Kent County as of January 7; epidemiologists estimate only 8 percent of cases get reported, so the actual number could be more than 2800.

“Many adults have this misconception that the flu vaccine is just for kids, the elderly, or people who have medical conditions,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Even healthy adults need protection. The CDC reports an increase in severe respiratory illness among young and middle-aged adults due to influenza A (H1N1) this year. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age.” The vaccine can take ten days to two weeks to become effective. Some children ages 6 months to 2 years old may require two doses of vaccine (parents should check with a health care provider for details).

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu viruses can spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). The KCHD says that if you think you have the flu, try to limit spreading the illness. Do not go to school or work until you recover.

The Kent County Health Department seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine is $25 for injectable three strain vaccine, $29 for preservative free three strain vaccine, $30 for preservative free four strain vaccine or $33 for FluMist nasal spray (a live, preservative-free, four strain vaccine).

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $15. The Health Department can only bill Medicaid and Medicare. Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our five clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can also schedule online at www.stickittotheflu.com.

Flu information is also available on an information only line at (616) 742-4FLU (358).

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Medicine cabinet makeover tips for people with high blood pressure


HEA-Flu-and-high-blood-pressure(BPT) – If you’re among the 68 million Americans who have high blood pressure, you may feel that taking your medicine, getting plenty of exercise and eating a healthy diet means you’re doing everything you can to manage your condition. But with cold season in full swing and many areas of the country recording record numbers of flu cases, it might be time for a medicine cabinet makeover as well – a total renovation in which you toss out any over-the-counter (OTC) medications that contain decongestants.

That’s because the same ingredients in decongestants that help relieve the nasal swelling associated with congestion also affect other blood vessels in the body, causing blood pressure and heart rate to rise—a potentially dangerous situation for those with high blood pressure. Unfortunately, just 10 percent of those with high blood pressure are aware they should avoid decongestants, and nearly half don’t know they should take a special OTC medicine when they have a cold or the flu, according to a survey by St. Joseph, makers of over-the-counter medications.

“The number of hypertensive people who don’t know to avoid decongestants is shocking,” says Bernie Kropfelder of -St. Joseph Health Products, LLC. “Each year, 5 to 20 percent of Americans will catch the flu, so it’s important for people with high blood pressure to talk to their doctors or pharmacists about which OTC medicines to avoid.”

If you have high blood pressure, start your medicine cabinet makeover by replacing OTC medicines that contain decongestants with remedies that don’t. Use products for fever and pain that contain acetaminophen, which will not interfere with aspirin’s benefits if you’re on an aspirin regimen.

Next, remove from your medicine cabinet, pantry or refrigerator dietary supplements that are high in sodium, as high levels of salt are commonly known to increase blood pressure. For example, many protein supplements contain hundreds of milligrams of sodium per serving.

Likewise, avoid supplements that contain extracts of grapefruit, and talk to your doctor about whether you should also remove grapefruit and grapefruit juice from your diet. Research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal points out that the number of medications that interact adversely with grapefruit is on the rise. There are now more than 85 drugs known to be affected by grapefruit, including calcium channel blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure, according to a CBC News report.

Once you’ve removed adverse products from your medicine cabinet, you’ll have plenty of room for additions that are good for your heart, your high blood pressure and your overall health, including:

  • Fish oil—supplements like fish oil that contain omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of health benefits, and are known to be good for your heart. People with high blood pressure are at increased risk of heart disease, so adding heart-healthy supplements to their diets may be beneficial.
  • Beet juice—OK, while this one should probably go in your refrigerator, adding beet juice to your diet may help your blood pressure control. Researchers at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia have found that within hours of drinking beet juice, study subjects had lowered systolic blood pressure by an average of four to five points, WebMD reports.
  • Sesame and rice bran oil—WebMD also reports that a recent study showed taking 35 grams of a sesame/rice bran oil blend daily can help lower blood pressure.

Finally, add some relaxation time to your “mental medicine cabinet.” Stress can elevate blood pressure, so engaging in activities that help reduce stress can aid in your efforts to control your blood pressure. While it’s not always possible to avoid stressful situations, you can counter the effects of daily stress with activities like meditation, yoga, listening to relaxing music or even just spending time with a beloved pet.

 

 

 

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Kent County braces for flu


Vaccination best shot for avoiding influenza 

From the Kent County Health Department

 

Influenza cases generally start peaking in February. The Kent County Health Department notes the trend is rising, so now is a good time to remind everyone how to avoid the flu.

Testing has determined that many of the cases being reported are “Influenza type A,” also known as the seasonal flu.  This is one of the types contained in the flu vaccination. If you haven’t received a vaccination against the flu this year, now is a good time to do it. “You should note that the vaccination can take about two weeks to become effective,” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Flu vaccines for children and adults are safe, and we have plenty of injection and nasal mist available right now.”

There are other steps you can take to prevent getting the flu other viruses.  Avoid people who are already sick or running a fever if possible, and if you are sick, stay home, to prevent spreading the illness to others.  Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and toss the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. And remember, germs spread when you touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

While everyone should get vaccinated against the flu virus, we especially recommend people at high risk of serious flu complications (young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older) get vaccinated. Health care workers, and those who care for high-risk people, should also. Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, so people who care for them should be vaccinated instead.

Signs and symptoms of flu include fever (or feeling feverish/chills), cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). Not everyone with flu will have a fever, or experience all of the symptoms.

Be sure to check out the Kent County Health Department website, “Stick it to the Flu” at http://www.stickittotheflu.com/ to learn more about flu vaccinations, prevention tips and treatment, or call (616) 632-7200 to make an appointment.

 

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Kent County excels in flu vaccinations for kids


Children rank tops in state – Vaccinations are currently available

Have you received your vaccination against the flu yet? Mid-season estimates released today by the Michigan Department of Community Health suggest that Kent County residents are doing very well in getting children vaccinated this year.  Children in Kent County have the best flu vaccination rate in the state: 30% under 18 have received their vaccinations.  Here’s a look at where Kent County children stand:
6 months through 4 years      44.4%    Second highest in state   (Ottawa Co. – 46.3%)
5-12 years of age     30.9%    Third highest in state (Marquette County – 33.7%)
13-18 years of age    16.7%    Highest in state

While influenza activity for the 2011-12 flu season is just starting to be diagnosed, now is an ideal time to vaccinate. “You should note that the vaccination can take about two weeks to become effective,” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Flu vaccines for children and adults are safe, and we have plenty of injection and nasal mist available right now.” Kent County adults rank 8th in the state for flu vaccinations at 13 percent.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say last year’s flu season led to 115 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths. Six were Michigan children. More than half (51.2 percent) of Michigan children 6 months through 4 years were vaccinated against influenza last flu season; that ranks our state 45th in the nation. The national flu vaccine average level for children in that age group was 63.6 percent.
Signs and symptoms of flu include fever (or feeling feverish/chills), cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults).  Not everyone with flu will have a fever, or experience all of the symptoms.
Be sure to check out the Kent County Health Department website, “Stick it to the Flu” at http://www.stickittotheflu.com/ to learn more about flu vaccinations, prevention tips and treatment, or call (616) 632-7200 to make an appointment.

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One-day flu vaccination clinic


Did you get vaccinated against flu yet? All locations of the Kent County Health Department are offering a flu vaccination clinic on Thursday, December 1, from 8 a.m. until 12 noon.  This one-day clinic will offer low-cost or free vaccinations for individuals who are uninsured or have insurance that does not cover flu vaccines.  Participants must be between the ages of 19 and 64 for this one-day clinic.
Fees for the vaccine are $15 or less, based on a sliding scale.  Supplies are limited, and you must have an appointment to take advantage of this special opportunity.  We have clinics in Kentwood, Wyoming, Rockford, and Grand Rapids (700 Fuller NE and the Sheldon Complex). Please call 616.632.7200 to set up your appointment.

Info from the Centers of Disease Control:

What is influenza (also called flu)?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
Signs and symptoms of flu
People who have the flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
Cough
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Headaches
Fatigue (very tired)
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
How flu spreads
Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or possibly their nose.
Period of contagiousness
You may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.
Complications of flu
Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.
Who should get vaccinated?
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010. While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that certain people get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

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Tips for treating a sick child


(Family Features)

Once the winter months set in, it seems there’s always some sort of “bug” going around school. Between colds, flu, strep and other common illnesses, kids are lucky to escape this season without coming down with something. But if they do get sick, what should you do? These tips will help parents and caregivers see kids through the illness and get them back on the way to health.
Treating a Fever. Not every fever needs treatment. Fevers are part of how the body fights off infection. The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) says that if your child is eating and sleeping well, and has periods of playfulness, he or she probably doesn’t need any treatment. But consult with your child’s doctor to find out what’s best in each case. The AAP has these tips for taking care of a child with a fever:
•    Keep his room and your home comfortably cool, and dress him lightly.
•    Encourage her to drink extra fluid such as water, diluted fruit juices or commercially prepared oral electrolyte solutions.
•    If the fever is a symptom of a highly contagious disease such as chickenpox or the flu, keep your child away from other children, elderly people, and people whose immune systems are compromised.
Treating Colds and Flu. While it’s tempting to seek medicinal treatment for every ailment, there is no cure for the cold or flu, and antibiotics don’t work on the viruses that cause colds and flu. The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says that headaches, muscle aches, sore throats and some fevers can be treated with pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Be sure you give the correct dose according to his or her age and weight.
•    Cough and cold medicines are not recommended for children, especially those younger than two.
•    Make sure your child rests and drinks plenty of fluids.
•    A humidifier can help moisten the air in your child’s bedroom and will help with nasal congestion.
Medicating Children. When a doctor does prescribe an antibiotic or antiviral medication, there are several important things to be aware of. The AAP recommends finishing all prescribed doses of an antibiotic, even if the child starts to feel better soon. They also recommend:
•    Sticking with the schedule – don’t skip doses and ask the doctor what to do if a dose isn’t given on time.
•    Giving the right amount – Never give a child more medicine because you think it might work better or faster. It could do more harm than good.
•    Don’t try to hide the medicine – If a child hates the taste of the medicine, or tries to spit it out, it might be tempting to try to hide it in milk or food. But this could affect how well the medicine works, so do not do this unless specifically directed by your child’s doctor.
For liquid prescriptions and over-the-counter medications that your child does hate the taste of, pharmacies can add Flavorx flavors to improve the taste. There are 15 to 20 flavors to choose from, including bubblegum, grape, strawberry and watermelon. Giving kids the power of choice when it comes to the taste of their medicine really makes a difference. The flavoring service is available at 40,000 major chain pharmacies across the country. Go to www.flavorx.com/locator to find one near you.
If your child is prescribed medication in pill form, there are ways to help the medicine go down. A flavored spray such as Pill Glide helps medications, vitamins and supplements go down without giving kids a stuck-in-the-throat feeling. It is available in grape and strawberry flavors and can be found in several national chain pharmacies. Find out more about both products at www.flavorx.com.

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