State health officials urge Nebraskans to get vaccinated for the flu.
Nebraska has had its first confirmed case of flu; actually three confirmed cases, all in Douglas County.
Nebraska Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Safranek sees it as a wakeup call.
“These are at a very low level; this amount of influenza. But it does suggest, obviously, the virus is here. Where it goes from here, it’s unpredictable,” Safranek tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “Ordinarily, it’s going to be a few more weeks, usually into December and January, before we really see serious amounts of it.”
Flu season in the United States typically peaks between December and February.
Safranek says that while Ebola is in the news, flu poses a more likely danger to Nebraskans.
Safranek says Ebola has evoked more hysteria than justified.
“Obviously, we’re all concerned about Ebola. It’s an incredibly, interesting, and unprecedented problem,” according to Safranek. “I would say right now there’s more of an epidemic of fear and concern and worry, more than a real threat for Ebola in our population.”
Safranek warns Nebraskans are much more susceptible to the flu. He urges everyone to get a flu shot, but especially the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions.
Children under eight should receive the flu vaccine through a nasal spray, if available, according to health officials.
Safranek says concern about Ebola shouldn’t keep residents from getting their flu shot.
“The best thing people can do if they’re really concerned about their health is to think what’s really here and what has a good chance of impacting them and that’s influenza,” Safranek says. “It’s preventable with an influenza vaccine.”
For more flu information, visit the DHHS website at www.dhhs.ne.gov/flu.