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Will Flu Epidemic Hit The Mother Lode?

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Nationally speaking, the flu season is hitting earlier and harder this year than last.

Calaveras County Public Health Officer Dean Kelaita, was Friday’s KVML “Newsmaker of the Day”.

Kelaita says that he expects the amount of cases in Calaveras County will increase soon and is letting residents know that vaccines are currently available to the community. These vaccines will prevent both seasonal flu and whooping cough.

Since September, the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported more than 22,000 cases of flu in the USA, compared to just 849 cases in the same period a year ago. This is an increase of about 26 times.  

The surge of infections has prompted Boston to declare a public health emergency, and a Pennsylvania hospital was so swamped that it had to put up a tent to handle flu patients.

Like other viral illnesses, flu has an incubation period before its characteristic symptoms-including fever, chills, runny nose, headaches, achy muscles, fatigue, and sore throat-strike. During the interval between exposure to flu and onset of illness-which typically lasts one to four days-levels of the virus rapidly multiply inside the body.

According to the CDC, most adults with flu can infect others starting one day before symptoms strike. In addition, some people who are infected with flu don’t develop any symptoms, but can still transmit the virus during the period while it’s active in their body. That means you can transmit the infection before you know you’re sick or catch flu from someone who looks and feels perfectly healthy.

Most adults with flu are contagious from one day before symptoms start until five to seven days after the symptoms appear. However, some people-including kids as well as adults with weakened immune systems-may remain contagious for up 14 days after they start to feel sick.

This is why Kelaita recommends getting a flu shot. The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone age 6 months or older, unless there’s a medical reason (such as allergy) not to get the shot.

“It’s easy to forget that seasonal flu can cause serious illness and possibly death for some infants, youth and adults,” said Kelaita.

He says those at risk include adults 50 years of age and over, pregnant women and everyone with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, kidney, heart or lung disease.

Whooping cough or pertussis is also a continuing concern for public health.

Youth are now required to have proof of the Tdap (whooping cough booster) before entering 7th grade to limit the spread of this preventable disease.

The Tdap vaccine is also available for children, youth and adults at Public Health community clinics.

For more information about the flu, Tdap vaccines or the clinics, call the Public Health Department at (209) 754-6460 or visit

The “Newsmaker of the Day” is heard every weekday morning on AM 1450 KVML at 6:47, 7:47 and 8:47am.

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