Area health professionals and educators are seeing confirmed cases of the flu much earlier than normal this year.
Dr. Abdul Dahhan said the cases he is seeing are in young people, not the elderly.
“It is hitting the younger people,” he said, adding the spread is occurring through close environmental contact.
Harlan Independent Schools Superintendent C.D. Morton said his district is “feeling it strong in the elementary school more than the middle and high school.”
Morton said on Thursday “We are holding on until fall break which is next week. We are hoping folks will have an opportunity to recover and get healthy. “
Dahhan said the symptoms he is seeing most frequently are nausea, vomiting, fever, aches and head congestion. He said he isn’t seeing respiratory issues nor the usual cough with shortness of breath.
Because of the early onset, Dahhan said he encourages everyone to get their vaccination and not wait. He said three weeks is needed for the vaccine to reach its potential for prevention.
The vaccine is recommended for those over 60 and anyone with a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart problems, and pulmonary or respiratory issues.
“I encourage anyone with a weakened immune system to consider taking the flu vaccine,” said Dahhan.
The Center for Disease Control recommends flu shots for anyone over six months as the first and most important step in protection.
“While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season,” says the CDC on its website influenza updates. “Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season.”
And if you do catch the flu, Dahhan says, “What we do for it is treat the symptoms.”