Each year as cooler temperatures cause the mercury to fall, the threat of influenza rises.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports December through March as the period when influenza is most prevalent. February was the month with the most number of cases reported 14 of the past 30 years. Susan Rice, with the Livingston County Health Center, said the cold has much to do with the increase in illness during the winter.
"People are usually more grouped up in closer contact," Rice said. "There's more games and school events where teams are closer together. It's too cold to get out and get separated."
Because limiting contact wither others is often unpreventable during the winter months, Sherry Weldon of the Livingston County Health Center said washing hands more frequently is a great way to prevent yourself from contracting the illness.
"Washing your hands and not touching anything on your face, whether it's your nose or your eyes or your mouth," Weldon said. "The influenza virus can enter your body that way, so washing your hands and not touching your face is a really good thing to follow."
If one were to contract the influenza virus, Weldon said seeing a doctor quickly is the best solution.
"Some of the symptoms of influenza are body aches, a cough, fever, weakness and fatigue," Weldon explained. "If you start to have those symptoms and go to the doctor soon enough, you can be put on an antiviral and that will decrease the number of days you are ill."
Since December, around 30 cases of influenza have been reported in the county. Rice said those numbers are comparable to years past. To combat the threat of influenza, the Livingston County Health Center offered free vaccines to area students. Weldon said 292 of the vaccines were distributed at the schools, while the rest were given at the Health Center. Weldon said both vaccine methods, the mist and the shot, are equally effective. The method of vaccination depends mostly on patient preference.
"For those that don't want the injection, the mist is easily absorbed into the mucus of the nasal passage," Weldon explained. "It's really quick and simple, but some people are leery of it, so we still have injectable types."
Rice said its not too late to receive a vaccination and encourages everyone to get one.
"We've been advertising flu vaccines for about a month now," Rice said. "Everyone over 6-months-old needs a flu shot."