Alabama issues flu warning as reports increase across the state

The Alabama Department of Public Health has issued a warning about flu activity, saying reports and activity levels are up across the state.

A release from the department sums up the symptoms to watch for as “fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue.”

“This increased rate of flu activity is concerning because influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, including children, pregnant women, and previously healthy young adults,” said Dr. Burnestine Taylor, Medical Officer for Disease Control and Prevention for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The state’s health agency urges people to ask for the “quadrivalent vaccine,” which protects against four flu strains. The department’s release says only the quadrivalent protects against the Type B/Yamagata flu strain that is in circulation around Alabama.

The agency also urges people to stay at home when sick, cover mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands frequently.

The release also tells medical providers that “Physicians should prioritize influenza as a possible diagnosis for ill patients when treating them. Additionally, all hospitalized patients and all high-risk patients (either hospitalized or outpatient) with suspected influenza should be treated as soon as possible with a neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral.  Even if the rapid or quick flu test is negative, a patient may still have influenza.”

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect against this serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine,” said Dr. Taylor.

The release urges people, ”

Contact your private provider, pharmacy or local county health department to receive an influenza vaccination. For more information contact the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599, and visit alabamapublichealth.gov/immunization for updated influenza activity information.”