A state public health emergency has been issued in Alabama as a result of the flu outbreak across the state.
The outbreak poses a high probability of widespread exposure to an infectious agent that poses significant risk of substantial harm to a large number of people in the affected population, according to Gov. Kay Ivey's office, which issued the emergency, on recommendation of the state's health officer.
At the end of 2017, only Mobile District County and the Northeastern District Counties -- including Shelby, Clay and Talladega counties -- had no significant influenza reported.
At the end of last week -- Jan. 6 -- the West Central District Counties including Chilton, Perry and Tuscaloosa counties, were added to the "no significant influenza reported." The remaining five counties reported significant influenza activity.
At this time, this is not a pandemic flu situation, but a major seasonal flu situation, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Baptist Health on Thursday reported that area hospitals are experiencing a significant surge in flu and other respiratory illness patients. As a result, emergency departments have reached maximum capacity, increasing wait times for non-emergent care.
If patients are experiencing flu-like symptoms without signs of serious illness, Baptist advises to first seek care from a medical doctor, AFC Primed or other urgent care facility.
For the protection of patients, staff and yourself, visitors demonstrating any potential symptoms are encouraged to avoid the hospital.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly advises people to avoid close contact with people who are sick, to stay home when they are sick, to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and to use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water aren't available for frequent hand washing.
To avoid getting and spreading the flu, the ADPH urges the general public to follow the 10 "Fight the Flu" actions, including getting a flu vaccine; staying home if you have a fever; washing hands; covering your cough and sneeze; cleaning and disinfecting; learning home care.
The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold, and usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills; cough; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle of body aches; headaches; and/or fatigue.
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults.
For people with mild to moderate flu or flu-like symptoms, please do not go to your doctor's office without calling first and do not go to the emergency room. Instead, call your doctor to see if you are eligible for antivirals without an appointment.
Employers and schools that require doctor excuses for absences are asked to waive this requirement during this time to encourage those who are sick to stay home and not spread disease, according to the ADPH. ___
This article is written by Kym Klass from The Montgomery Advertiser and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.