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July 3, 2014

Got the flu? Whooping cough?

Officials: Summer temps don’t keep ‘bugs’ away

CHEROKEE COUNTY — Do you have the sniffles? Or maybe a cough that just won't go away?

Summertime often makes those with allergies have cold-like symptoms, however getting the flu during the summer is also possible.

“It is entirely possible to contract influenza during the summer,” said Chris Taylor, executive director of Cherokee County Public Health. “Locally, we have not seen a number of cases that cause concern. But the public should keep in mind that in general, influenza is not a true reportable disease, therefore we often do not know about the total number of cases.”

Taylor said as of May 2014, the CDC reports known seasonal flu activity to below and

declining.

Abroad however, he said, an increasing number of measles cases have been reported since May 2014 – the highest since 1994.

“Locally, we have seen an increasing number of cases of pertussis or 'whooping cough,'” Taylor said.

At CVS in Jacksonville, the pharmacy offers a prescription 'whooping cough' vaccine, according to pharmacy staff. On Wednesday, the vaccine was on back order at the Jacksonville location.

Antibiotics or cough medicines do not prevent coughing, according to the company's website.

However, there are a few steps one may take to help control symptoms and prevent complications:

• Get plenty of rest;

• Use a cool mist vaporizer to loosen mucus and soothe the respiratory tract;

• Avoid irritants that trigger coughing, such as smoke or aerosol sprays; and

• Drink plenty of fluids.

So, how do you tell what is causing you to be sick?

It may be difficult however, to tell the difference between flu-like symptoms and the common cold virus and – in some cases – allergies, Taylor said.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, lab testing makes it much easier to confirm or rule out an ILI or flu diagnosis. Typically with an ILI or flu, people notice a fever, body aches, extreme tiredness and dry cough which may be more intense than with the common cold or allergies.

While people with colds or allergies may tend to have more of a runny or stuffy nose, these generally do not result in serious health problems. If a person is unsure, it's best to schedule an appointment with their provider and have a test done to provide them with reliable information that can help them get on the road to recovery much faster.

A person with high fever and other more concerning symptoms should not try and wait it out, as the risk for things like dehydration make the situation worse.

Don't want to miss favorite summertime events or have vacation plans disrupted? Here's what to do to help prevent getting sick:

“If you have a concern about the flu or ILI this summer, the prescription is always the same: Wash your hands, particularly after being in the public; keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you; avoid putting your hands to your face after personal contact with someone else; cover your cough by

coughing into your elbow and encourage those around you to do the same; stay home,” Taylor said.

If experiencing flu-like symptoms, Taylor suggested the person “see a healthcare provider, keep your environment clean and avoid public areas where there are lots of people.”

The Cherokee County Public Health Department, CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services contributed to this story.

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