Flu season has come early this year and Michigan is among the states where the illness is widespread, according to the Centers for Disease Control. So, White Lake-Highland Patch has put together a handy guide to help keep you and your family healthy.
Read on for advice from local experts on symptoms, where to find more information, where to get vaccinated and ways to stay healthy.
Influenza is a life-threatening disease, especially for the elderly and infants, according to the Oakland County Health Division, which reports there were 18 pediatric deaths nationwide and four in Michigan as of Thursday, Jan. 10.
"Flu can be spread to others up to about six feet away, mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk," the agency says. "Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, nose or mouth."
The flu usually comes on suddenly and symptoms can include the following, according to the OCHD.
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Flu hot lines have answers
Beaumont Health System and the Oakland County Health Division have launched flu hot lines to address the community's concerns.
- Registered nurses will staff Beaumont's toll-free hot line 24 hours a day to answer questions about symptoms and when and where to seek medical attention. The hot line number is 888-375-4161.
- OCHD’s flu hot line can be reached at 800-434-3358 or dial Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533. More information is available at oakgov.com/health or facebook.com/publichealthOC.
Where to get vaccinated
The Oakland County Health Division says it's not too late to get vaccinated against the flu.
“Compared to recent years, we are seeing early flu activity, although it is still within normal range. We have seen peaks as early as October and as late as March in the past," OCHD manager/health officer Kathy Forzley said. "It’s best to get your flu shot as soon as possible as it takes two weeks after the vaccination for the body to develop protection.”
Shots cost $16 and are available from noon to 8 p.m. on Mondays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the following locations.
- 1200 N. Telegraph Road, Building 34 East, Pontiac; call 248-858-7350 to register in advance.
- 27725 Greenfield Road, Southfield; call 248-424-7120 to register in advance.
However, walk-in appointments are welcome; payment options include Medicare, Medicaid and cash (no credit cards, checks or money orders).
You can also get your flu shot right here in White Lake and Highland. See The Season Is Here: Where to Get the Flu Shot in White Lake and Highland for more locations.
Tips to stay healthy
According to the Oakland County Health Division and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, avoiding the flu can be done with a series of simple steps.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and throw it away.
- If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Wash hands often.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
- Make sure to exercise daily, eat healthy food, drink water and get plenty of sleep.
- Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
And for those most likely to be infected — young people that pick up the flu bug at school — the message is clear: if you're sick, stay home from school.