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Flu season is underway

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The holidays are upon us, and in Denton County, so is flu season. Denton County Health Department’s hospital surveillance systems have noted a substantial increase in influenza activity. Area physicians have also started to see an increase in patients diagnosed with influenza.

“I think we can officially say that flu season has started in Denton County, but we are still at the beginning,” said Juan Rodriguez, Chief Epidemiologist for the Denton County Health Department.

Schools around Denton County are reporting sporadic flu activity. Dr. Bing Burton, Director for the Denton County Health Department notes, “It is not too late for people to receive their flu vaccinations.”

The Denton County Health Department has flu vaccine in both their Denton and Lewisville offices and will be administering it during normal business hours on a walk-in basis.

Flu shots will be available for the general public, but DCHD especially encourages those at high risk of complications from the flu to receive a flu vaccination. Those individuals that are considered high risk include:

 *   Children 6 months to 5 years
 *   Adults over the age of 50
 *   Persons of any age with chronic medical conditions
 *   Persons living in nursing homes or other long term care facilities
 *   Pregnant women
 *   Persons living with high risk individuals (such as a new born baby)

The cost of the flu shot is $20, payable in cash only. Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP will also be accepted as payment.

Vaccinations are not the only way to help prevent the flu. Here are steps you and your family can take to stay healthy:

 *   The simplest and most effective way to stop the spread of the flu and many
other diseases is to wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water
are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Rub sanitizer in your hands
until they are dry.

 *   Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when people
touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch their eyes, nose or
mouth.

 *   Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Always cough or sneeze
into a tissue and throw it away to prevent the spread of the droplets, and then
wash your hands. If you don’t have a tissue, cover your cough or sneeze into the
crease of your elbow. If you cough or sneeze into your hand, make sure to wash them
immediately.

Juan Rodriguez also adds, “If you feel ill, stay home from work and keep sick kids home from school or daycare. This will help to reduce the spread of all illnesses this winter.”

For additional information or for specific treatment options, contact your health care provider.

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