Friday, Feb 10 2012 - Flu has arrived on San Juan Island and is starting to appear on Lopez island as well, according to the San Juan County Health Department. The department monitors the County’s schools for signs spreading communicable disease and it reported that there is no doubt that flu season has arrived.
Fourteen children suffering flu-like symptoms were sent home from Friday Harbor Elementary School on Thursday. Eighteen Friday Harbor high school students were also out of school with the flu.
For those who have been putting off getting a flu shot, San Juan County’s Personal Health Services Manager Susan Leff says – get your shot now, cover your cough, wash your hands often, and, if you’re feeling sick, stay home to avoid infecting others.
Cases of influenza type “B” have been confirmed on San Juan Island and type “A” has appeared on Lopez. Leff noted that the currently available vaccine is effective against both strains.
Of greatest concern are infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone who has a compromised immune system or upper respiratory issues.
Pregnant women are five times more likely to have severe illness with the flu and the flu shot helps protect the newborn for up to six months after delivery. Newborns, who are not eligible for a flu shot, can be cocooned against influenza by having their mothers and close family members vaccinated.
Leff said that in most cases the symptoms of the illness last about five days, though in some cases it can trigger longer-lasting and even life-threatening diseases such as pneumonia.
Generally flu season peaks in January, February, and March but until recently only a few cases have been reported.