CHEYENNE (AP) — The Wyoming Department of Health is urging state residents to take common-sense steps to prevent becoming ill with influenza or spreading it to others.
Reggie McClinton, surveillance epidemiologist with the health department, said influenza activity has increased across the state in recent weeks, though it is not as high as the same time last year. Campbell County currently has the highest amount of cases.
Sheridan County Public Health Nurse Educator Toby Granger said there have been two confirmed cases of influenza reported so far this year in Sheridan County.
That number is lower than the same week last year, Granger said, noting that a total of 238 cases of influenza were reported by providers in the county last year.
“Overall, Sheridan County is enjoying a relatively mild flu season thus far,” Granger said. “Of course, spikes in flu cases are still possible, so we urge citizens to practice prevention through good hand washing, staying home if they are sick except to see a medical provider and getting the seasonal flu shot.”
State epidemiologist Dr. Tracy Murphy said people can take steps to slow or prevent the spread of influenza.
He urged people to cover their mouth and nose with a sleeve or a tissue when they sneeze or cough. He also said people should wash their hands frequently and stay home when they’re sick.
“We are not yet seeing widespread community transmission or the likely peak of flu activity for the season, so for most people it is still a good time to get vaccinated,” Murphy said.
Murphy noted that the flu vaccine can take up to two weeks to offer effective protection. People exposed to the flu during those two weeks may still become ill, he said.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.
Influenza can sometimes cause severe illness and complications, and sometimes death, a press release from the Wyoming Department of Health said.
Doctors may recommend prescription antiviral medications to help treat influenza.
Murphy said residents who become ill should get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol or tobacco. Aspirin should not be given to children or teens with flu-like symptoms.
Sheridan Press staff reporter Hannah Wiest also contributed to this report.