Influenza is still a threat in Portage County

Akilah Porter

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According to the Center of Disease Control, the flu and a cold can share similar symptoms, but the flu’s are more intense.

The flu virus symptoms include:

– Fever

– Body aches

– Extreme tiredness

– Dry cough

The common cold:

-is more mild than the flu

-includes a runny or stuffy nose

– doesn’t typically result in serious health problems like hospitalization, pneumonia or bacterial infections

The peak of flu season still has two more months and according to Becky Lehman of the Portage County Board of Health, it could last until May.

She said it is a common misnomer that the flu can only be contracted during the winter months.

“Let me ask you a question,” Lehman said. “Can you get a virus in the summer?”

She said weather has nothing to do with when a person can catch influenza. Lehman said the reason why the flu is more rampant during colder months is because people tend to be more concentrated amongst each other and stay indoors compared to summer when people are out.

Even though Kent has experienced a harsh winter season this semester, Lehman said Portage County isn’t any worse off than other Northeast Ohio counties.

“We are the same as any other community,” she said.

The flu has hit other local areas like Cuyahoga County. Last week, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health announced 10 county residents died from the flu virus in January. However, Lehman said there have been no reported deaths from the flu in Portage County.

The Board of Health’s Kevin Brennan says this year’s flu season peaked earlier than previous years, but it is not too late to take precautions.

“We want to make sure that we warn people that we absolutely are not out of the woods yet,” Brennan said. “We are forecasting another eight weeks, or so, of flu season. We want to make sure that we express to people that if you have not received a flu shot yet, that there is still time to do so, and we recommend that you do so.”

He said even though there are only so many weeks left of flu season, people should take precaution by getting the flu shot to prevent from getting sick.

Besides the flu shot, health officials say the best way to avoid getting the flu is to wash your hands frequently.

Lehman also said she wants people to understand the difference between a cold and the flu.

“The flu is cold-like symptoms,” she said. “It’s an upper respiratory illness with a fever and body aches, but vomiting doesn’t mean you have the virus.”

Contact Akilah Porter at [email protected].