Influenza is in Jefferson County along with the rest of Central Oregon and the Northwest.

January and February are usually the highest months of actual cases. Cathy Luther, infection control nurse with St. Charles Madras reported to Jefferson County Public Health that they have seen in the past few weeks an increase in positive rapid flu tests from the emergency department, Madras Medical Group and Mosaic Medical, a trend echoed Deschutes and Crook counties.

The current main circulating type is H1N1, the same one as in 2009 outbreak, but it is covered by this year’s vaccine along with two other types.

Tom Machala, Jefferson County Public Health director said the best prevention is still a flu shot, which can prevent the illness or lessen the symptoms. The seasonal H1N1 strain is striking many people, including healthy children and young adults, but it is particularly important for children aged 6 months and older, pregnant women, people with chronic medical conditions and health care workers to be immunized against the flu.

In Jefferson County, the three pharmacies, Safeway, BiMart and Hometown Drug still have vaccine (for people age 11 and older), but call to be sure before you go. You will need to call your health care provider as well to see if they have the vaccine available.

In addition to vaccination, these preventive measures can help stop flu and other diseases from circulating:

Cover your cough and sneeze.

Wash your hands often. Use soap and warm water.

Stay home when you’re sick. Protect others at school and work by staying home at least 24-hours after your fever (100-plus degrees) subsides (subsides without fever reducing medicines).

Take antiviral medications if prescribed.

Clean surfaces. Flu germs can live for hours on hard surfaces. Make sure your home and workspace are wiped down frequently, especially where children are playing.

Flu symptoms usually include fever and chills, aches, tiredness, a dry cough, chest discomfort (often severe) and a headache. Cold symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy nose, sore throat, and a hacking, productive cough.

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