Michigan Flu Focus – Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report
During flu season, the Bureau of Infectious Disease Prevention publishes the "Michigan Flu Focus", which includes information on Influenza and influenza-like illnesses. It also includes information regarding flu nationally as well as state-wide and regional data, providing a weekly snapshot on influenza data. Sign Up for the Flu Focus
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Announces Rural Environmental Public Health Needs Competition
EPA and partners announced the Small Communities, Big Challenges Competition for local governments in the United States to demonstrate innovative and inclusive strategies for engaging with rural communities. Local governments, while ideally positioned to engage with these rural and remote communities, often have expansive responsibilities, limited resources, and geographic barriers that make it difficult to directly engage with these communities to collaboratively identify priority environmental public health issues. This opportunity also encourages collaboration to understand issues that could benefit from future scientific research. Applying innovative and inclusive approaches or strategies could help local governments connect with rural communities to identify environmental and public health issues impacting their citizens, pets, agriculture, education systems, and critical infrastructure. The deadline for applications is 11:59 PM ET on Wednesday, January 31, 2024.
ASTHO Releases Health Care Capacity Discussion Guide for 2023 Fall and Winter Respiratory Illness Season
ASTHO recently released the Health Care Capacity Discussion Guide. This guide was developed for public health leaders when meeting with leaders of health care systems and assessing health care capacity. It aims to assist public health leaders in discussing short- and long-term strategies to prevent and manage potential surge challenges to health care capacity during the 2023 fall and winter respiratory illness season.
Dangers of Cold and Flu Season
As the calendar turns to fall and winter, we’re officially in peak cold and flu season. For most of us, this means extra sniffles and a lingering cough, but for others, viruses like the flu can be serious business. Influenza causes hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations each year. And, each year in the United States, there are millions of cases of the common cold. Adults have an average of 2-3 colds per year, and children have even more. So how can we stay healthy during cold and flu season?
Mitigation is a key to staying healthy during cold and flu season. Things like sneezing and coughing into our sleeves or staying home when we’re sick are tried and true methods of stopping the spread of germs. But what about making changes to our lifestyle? Healthy eating, exercise, sleep, and quitting smoking are all daily habits that can improve our health. Doing one or all these things can significantly limit the effects that colds and flu can have on us, as those with chronic illness, like obesity and respiratory disease, have more adverse effects from these viruses.
But, even with healthy living, we can still catch a cold or the flu. How do you kick them?
There is no cure for a cold. To feel better, you should get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Over-the-counter medicines may help ease symptoms but will not make your cold go away any faster, and don’t forget to always read the label and use medications as directed. Antibiotics will not help you recover from a cold caused by a respiratory virus. They do not work against viruses, and they may make it harder for your body to fight future bacterial infections if you take them unnecessarily. If you’re ill and have the opportunity, see your family doctor to rule out anything more serious. To help avoid catching a cold, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and, if you can, stay away from people who are sick.
If you suspect you have the flu, go see a doctor, and if prescribed, take antiviral medication.
Take everyday precautions, like you would with the common cold, to protect others while sick. Stay home until you are better. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Consider getting vaccinated for influenza. The best way to reduce your risk from seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated every year. The flu vaccine may not prevent you from getting the flu, but it can reduce its effects if you do get it. You can get your seasonal flu vaccine at your local drug store, doctor, or clinic.
Finally, help to stop the spread of colds and respiratory by staying home if you’re sick! Not sure if you have a cold, the flu, COVID-19, or Hay Fever? We’ve attached this chart so you can see the main differences between each.
A special shout out to our federal partners who, without their expertise, this article would not exist (we’re not doctors, after all). Thank you to the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the National Institutes for Health (www.nih.gov), Health and Human Services (www.hhs.gov), and Health.gov (www.health.gov).
Staying Warm This Winter
Cold weather is creeping in on us in the Midwest and, for many of us, that means we’re starting to crank up those furnaces to heat our homes. In some cases, we’re pulling out space heaters, portable fireplaces and using other devices to keep warm.
These are certainly viable home heating options but, it’s important to remember that heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fires. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a home catches fire every 93 seconds in the United States and in 2021, 75% of all fire deaths were caused by fires in the home. With that in mind – let’s talk safety.
When using space heaters, keep curtains, carpets and other items that can burn at least three feet away from the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or portable space heaters. Space heaters should never be set up on top of carpet or rugs. Have a three-foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heaters.
Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. If you can, purchase a space heater that has a timer and will shut off after 30 minutes or so. Also, be sure the tip over feature is working on the space heater so it will automatically turn off if it is knocked over.
Never use your oven to heat your home. This can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide in your home, which can lead to very serious health risks. Always use the right kind of fuel, specified by the manufacturer, for fuel burning space heaters and have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
Consider this checklist as we enter home heating season:
Finally, it’s important to have a plan to assist family members who have a physical disability. Consider using smoke detectors with flashing lights to alert individuals who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. It's also a good idea to check all exits to be sure individuals who use a walker or wheelchair can get through the doorways.
For additional tips that can help guide you as you create a fire safety plan, check out Ready.gov/home-fires.