Folks urged to prepare for a severe flu season - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Folks urged to prepare for a severe flu season

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The Centers for Disease Control said flu season in the United States is off to its earliest start in almost a decade and it could be more severe than usual.

Flu cases have jumped in five southern states and two children have died from complications.

So far the western U.S. hasn't had an early uptick, but with the holiday travel season here experts said it's only a matter of time until it hits us early. January and February is usually when the season peaks in Southern Nevada.

Fortunately, the Southern Nevada Health District said it seems the vaccine this year has been working.

"So far what they've found is the cases in the country, most or all seem to be covered by strains that have been put in vaccinations, so it will be particularly effective," Senior Scientist Nancy Williams said.

Williams said everyone 6 months and older is encouraged to get their vaccine, especially the young and elderly or others who have health problems like asthma or heart issues.

The flu can lead to complications like pneumonia.

Good Night Pediatrics is an overnight medical center for children, so families don't have to visit the emergency room.

Doctors said flu symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, fatigue, head and body aches. For children vomiting and diarrhea are possibilities as well.

Dr. Lisa Miller said prevention is key.

"Obviously covering your cough washing your hands frequently. The flu is spread by droplets," Miller said.

Just in case parents are encouraged to keep five items on hand:

  1. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen - for aches.
  2. Saline drops - to help clear nasal passages.
  3. Cool mist humidifier - to make air easier to breathe.
  4. Pedialyte - or something with electrolytes to help replace fluids.
  5. Decongestant - which doesn't work for everyone and is not recommended for children younger than 4 years old.

For more information on influenza head to the CDC website.

To find information on pricing and flu vaccine clinics from the Southern Nevada Health District click here.

Last time the flu season started this early was back in winter 2003. It was one of the deadliest seasons with more than 48,000 deaths nationwide. The flu that year was the same strain as this year, but in 2003 the vaccine was poorly matched to the strain.

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