Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rise in flu cases reminds residents to follow health recommendations

Los Angeles County Public Health Department
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 806 · Los Angeles, CA 90012 · (213) 240-8144 ·

For Immediate Release:

June 30, 2009

Rise in Flu Cases in LA County Reminds Residents to Continue to Follow Health Recommendations

LOS ANGELES – Because of an increase in the number of reported influenza cases and outbreaks in Los Angeles County, a situation not normally seen in summer, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is reminding everyone to continue to practice good hygiene to avoid illness. While not all cases of reported influenza are due to the new flu A H1N1 ("swine flu"), and not all cases of flu-like illness are influenza, many cases of flu and other respiratory illnesses can be prevented and easily treated by following simple recommendations.
"During this summer, the recommendations for avoiding illness are the same as during the fall or winter months: wash your hands, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you are sick," said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer.
Illness prevention tips:
􀂃 Wash your hands frequently. Use hand sanitizer when you cannot get to soap and water.
􀂃 Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
􀂃 Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.
􀂃 Stay home from work, school, or summer camp if you or your child has flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and pains, coughing, fatigue, or sore throat. Do not return to work or school until one to two days after the fever has ended. This will help prevent the spread of illness to others.
􀂃 If you have a planned vacation and you are sick, it is advised that you avoid travel publicly (bus, train, plane, etc) until you have recovered.
When to call your doctor:
"Most people with flu-like symptoms do not need to visit the doctor; they can care for themselves effectively at home. Those with chronic, underlying health conditions should call their doctor to see if they should come in for a face-to-face visit," said Dr. Fielding.
If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, you should care for yourself the same way you would with any illness:
􀂃 Stay home and rest.
􀂃 Drink plenty of fluids.
􀂃 Take over-the-counter pain relievers for fever and aches; avoid products containing aspirin.
􀂃 Prevent spreading illness to others by washing your hands frequently and avoiding close contact to others.
Flu or Cold:
"Flu-like symptoms can describe a number of different upper respiratory illnesses. A cold will
produce a runny nose, possibly a cough or sore throat, and a low-grade fever, typically below 100° F. Influenza is marked by similar symptoms, but fever is generally higher, typically well above 100° F, the cough does not produce phlegm, and body aches and pains tend to be severe," said Dr. Fielding. Residents who are concerned about their symptoms should call their doctor.
Allergies or Flu:
Some upper respiratory illnesses may not be infectious at all, but may be allergies caused by exposure to pollen, dust, pet dander, or other agents. Allergies can cause runny nose and congestion, sneezing, itching, and red, watery eyes. Allergies do not cause fever, and are not contagious. Individuals should talk to their doctor about allergy medications and treatment.
Prescription medications:
Medications such as Tamiflu or Relenza are not vaccines. These medications are reserved for treating individuals who have been hospitalized with severe illness. Tamiflu or Relenza should not be taken without the advice of a doctor. Medications do not take the place of practicing good hygiene.
There is no vaccine yet for the new flu A H1N1. However everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated this fall to protect against regular, seasonal flu. Remember that the new flu A H1N1 is only one of several types of influenza virus that cause illness. Check the Public Health website at starting in the fall for information on how to receive a free or low-cost injection or FluMist® nasal spray vaccine.
For more information on flu prevention, including information about the new flu A H1N1 ("swine flu"), please check the Public Health website at
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit

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