Flu Season Arrives on Cape Cod

HYANNIS – Flu season has arrived on Cape Cod.

Local health officials say influenza cases range from widespread to moderate across Cape Cod and Southeastern Mass.

Dr. Robert Caldas, the Chief Medical Officer for Southcoast Health, says there has been a recent increase in the number of cases across the region.

“Over the past two weeks we have almost had a doubling in the number of cases that have occurred,” Caldas said. “So I think we are definitely in the upswing.”

The increase in flu activity hit the region slightly early this year as Caldas said the typical time period is generally through January and into February.
“It’s keeping with what we would expect,” he said.

The frigid temperatures may have contributed to the increase in cases over the last few weeks.

“It’s not so much anything special about the temperature. It’s that people tend to stay in enclosed areas more when the temperatures are really frigid,” Caldas said. “And that just really allows a lot more exposure.”

Kathleen Kohut, the director of infection prevention for Cape Cod Healthcare, said the state is at a moderate level of cases compared to the rest of the nation.

“We’re starting to see a little bit more and we’re certainly seeing an uptick in people that are being hospitalized with the flu,” Kohut said.

Healthcare officials say the best prevention method is to receive the flu vaccine.

Washing hands frequently is also recommended to help prevent exposure to the virus.

“If you have to take care of sick family members wear a mask,” Kohut said. “And then wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.”

Residents who show symptoms of the flu should also stay home from work or school.

Symptoms include fever, headaches, body aches, lack of energy and upper respiratory issues.

“It pretty much hits you like a Mack truck,” Kohut said. “It’s an abrupt onset versus something like a cold that builds up over the course of a few days.”

“Do not go into the workplace unprotected,” Caldas said. “You’ll really spread that throughout the workplace and that will be more detrimental than helpful.”

Individuals with flu symptoms should contact their primary care physician.

“They might be able to give you a prescription to make the symptoms less,” Kohut said.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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