Get the Flu Vaccine Every Year for the Best Protection

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department (BEDHD) recommends getting a flu vaccine this year, and every year, to protect yourself and your family from flu and its potentially serious complications.

Anyone can get the flu, including healthy children and adults. Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. Unlike the common cold, flu symptoms usually appear suddenly and may last up to two weeks. Some people are at a greater risk of more severe symptoms and complications. These include individuals aged 65 and older, those with certain chronic conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than five years old (especially infants).

"Getting an influenza vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your family against the flu and its potentially serious complications," says Jackie Anderson, RN, BEDHD Clinic Coordinator. "In fact, a recent study showed that influenza vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by nearly two-thirds in healthy children." If you receive a vaccination and still get the flu, the vaccine may make flu symptoms milder. The vaccine will also prevent you from spreading the flu to others, including those at risk of more serious illness. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department, along with CDC, recommend a three-step approach to fight flu:

  • Get a flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting a flu vaccine every year provides the best protection against flu.
  • Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you become sick, limit your contact with others. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often.
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get sick with flu, prescription flu antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

BEDHD offers flu vaccinations for children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years of age. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body to protect against flu virus infection. BEDHD encourages you to contact your health care provider or local pharmacy and get vaccinated before flu activity starts to increase. For more information about immunizations offered at BEDHD, visit www.barryeatonhealth.org/immunizations. For more information on this year's influenza vaccine, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccinations. Call (517) 541-2651 or (269) 793-4133 to schedule an appointment.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on October 14th, 2019. - Article Permalink

Lockwood Elementary students become "doctors for a day" at mini-medical school event

The Michigan Health Council and Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) partnered to bring Mini-Medical School to Lockwood Elementary on September 12, 2019. The event offered hands-on health and medicine-related activities for local elementary school children in grades K-3. Kindra Smith, registered nurse and parent of a Lockwood student, recommended the program to Lockwood Elementary.

Students had the opportunity to learn about nutrition, exercise, bone health, body organs, common medical instruments, and the importance of personal hygiene through interactive stations. The event not only taught children about how the body works and why they need to eat right, exercise, and take care of themselves, but it also showed them the role physicians play in healthcare and how one day they too can aspire to be a doctor or medical professional if they choose. Each student received a certificate and a workbook upon completion of all Mini-Medical School stations.

The local hospital was approached to participate and fund the program. Nearly 40 Eaton Rapids Medical Center employees volunteered at the event. ERMC staff later cited a deep appreciation for the teachers and support staff who teach, guide, and inspire the students daily.

"Mini-Medical School aims to promote aspirational thinking in young children and plant the seed that encourages them to pursue higher education beyond high school," stated Brandess Wallace, MPH, Community Engagement and Education Coordinator at the Michigan Health Council. "Our primary goals are to educate children on the importance of preventive medicine and a healthy lifestyle, alleviate children's fear of doctors, and create a better understanding of medical instruments. We also endeavor to introduce the children to career opportunities in the healthcare field and foster positive role models for children."

Article posted on September 19th, 2019. - Article Permalink

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in Southwest Michigan, Including Barry County

Southwest Michigan is experiencing activity of a rare, deadly mosquito-borne disease known as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). As of September 17, there have been 7 confirmed cases of EEE in humans, including one (1) case in Barry County. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department would like to remind residents that human cases of EEE are rare, usually averaging around 7 cases per year in the United States. However, the presence of EEE activity in the Southwest Region of Michigan is of concern, thus, precautions to prevent exposure to mosquitos should be taken.

People can become infected with the EEE virus from the bite of a mosquito carrying the virus. Most who are infected with the virus that causes EEE do not become ill. However, persons below the age of 15 or above the age of 50 years have greater risk of developing a severe infection that has high potential for permanent brain damage or death. Barry County residents will continue to be at risk for EEE infection until the first frost decreases mosquito populations. The risk of bites from infected mosquitoes is highest for people who work or play outdoors in these areas. Wearing insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET, or one of the other active ingredients listed below, when outdoors (especially at dawn and dusk), is important to prevent EEE.

Early symptoms of EEE include the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, body and joint aches. Symptoms usually appear 4-10 days after exposure. EEE can develop into severe encephalitis (brain swelling), resulting in headache, disorientation, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Permanent brain damage, coma and death may also occur in some cases.

All residents of and visitors to areas where virus activity has been identified are at risk of infection with EEE. To prevent mosquito bites, the following precautions should be taken:

  • Use an insect repellent registered by the EPA, containing one of the following active ingredients; DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin and/or clothing. To find out if an insect repellant is registered by the EPA, visit epa.gov/insect-repellents.
  • Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Instead, dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs. Cover strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting. Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid outdoor activities from dusk until dawn
  • Wear long-sleeves, long pants, and socks with shoes when weather permits.
  • Have secure screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels and other containers.

Additionally, municipal, community, and school leaders should consider taking the following actions:

  • When possible, consider rescheduling, relocating, or cancelling outdoor activities from dusk until dawn until the first frost of the season.
  • If outdoor events are planned between dusk and dawn, attendees should be encouraged to protect themselves with insect repellants that include the ingredients listed above.
  • Eliminate sources of standing water around your respective institutions and jurisdictions.
  • Reiterate these messages on your social media platforms.

For more information on EEE activity in Michigan, visit michigan.gov/eee. To learn more about EEE and how to prevent mosquito bites, visit cdc.gov/eee.

-From the Barry-Eaton District Health Department

Article posted on September 19th, 2019. - Article Permalink

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