County offers tips to help protect against influenza
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In the wake of last week’s death of a 23-year-old man because of influenza, interim Sonoma County Health Officer, Dr. Karen Holbrook, has released tips to help protect one’s self against this illness.

The death is the only influenza death in Sonoma County, although eight cases of severe influenza have been reported to date in the county this flu season.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family,” Holbrook stated. “While the vast majority of cases of flu have mild or moderate illness, sadly this tragic death reminds all of us that influenza can be a very serious illness.”

Influenza is on the rise across the county and, in the case of the death, the strain of influenza was identified as H1N1. Seasonal H1N1 is the leading strain this year, which is covered in this year’s flu vaccine. 

Getting the annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. It is not too late to get a flu vaccine.  

Everyone should take the following steps to avoid becoming ill with the flu or passing it on to others:

• Get your flu vaccine. It is still widely available at health care facilities and local pharmacies.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.  Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Parents should set a good example by washing their own hands frequently.

• Cover your cough, nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash immediately after you use it.

• Avoid spreading germs by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.

• Do not go to work or send children to school while ill. If sick, stay home at least 24 hours after being free of fever (100 degrees) or signs of a fever, without the use of fever-reducing medications like Tylenol or Advil.

Go to www.sonoma-county.org/health/topics/influenza.asp for more information and locations where flu vaccinations are available.

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