Flu season plaguing Central Valley; lost work hours impact business costs

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On average, $16.3 billion in earnings is lost annually due to the influenza virus. This year is shaping up to be no different, as flu outbreaks have been reported throughout San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts the flu and thousands die from flu-related illness. Taking preventative steps like getting an influenza vaccine can help reduce the impact.

“Everyone over six months of age who has not been vaccinated this season should get a flu shot now to protect themselves and others,” said Karen Furst, MD, San Joaquin County Interim Public Health Officer. Vaccination is a proven way to prevent the flu, according to San Joaquin County Public Health Services.

Public Health has reported six flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, 12 flu-related intensive care unit admissions of people under 65 and three flu-related deaths within San Joaquin County.

Since the flu is transmitted mostly coughing, sneezing and by hands, covering the mouth when sneezing or coughing and frequently washing hands with soap and water (or using hand sanitizer) is recommended to help reduce the spread.

Employers are urged to send employees home if they come to work with the flu. Symptoms to look for include high fever, extreme tiredness, runny or stuffy nose, chills, dry cough, body aches, headache, sore throat and possible diarrhea and vomiting.

Most cases of flu can be treated at home without medical intervention as it is a virus. However, if employers notice the following symptoms in employees with the flu, they should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu symptoms improve, but then return with high fever and worse cough

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