The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Iron County Health Department advises on different types of flu



Hurley — As the yearly flu bug travels around the area, Iron County Health Department officials are advising residents on the different types of flu, specifically the difference between influenza and norovirus.

While both are often referred to as the flu, Iron County Health Officer Katie Hampston, said only influenza is technically the flu.

“A lot of people will say, ‘I have the flu.’ But you have to clarify the real flu — influenza — is respiratory and the stomach flu is norovirus … and is the vomiting and diarrhea,” Hampston said. “They’re not, in any way, related.”

Hampston said the health department is seeing an increase in cases of both diseases, which is normal for this time of year.

Influenza symptoms include fever, chills, headache, dry cough and aching in the muscles and joints, according to information from the Wisconsin Division of Public Health.

Norovirus is marked by vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. While norovirus’ symptoms can also include a mild fever, head and muscle aches, chills and fatigue; Hampston said it usually takes longer to get over influenza.

Influenza symptoms usually appear one to three days after exposure, according to the state’s information, while norovirus symptoms generally start 12 to 48 hours after being infected.

One of the key reasons to know the difference between influenza and norovirus, according to Hampston, is influenza can be treated.

“With norovirus — your typical norovirus stomach flu — a lot of people, it just kind of passes on its own,” Hampston said. “Influenza, if you are treated within 48 of your influenza symptoms starting, there is medication a doctor can prescribe.”

She also encouraged residents to get vaccinated against influenza by getting a flu shot.

Vaccine still available at the health department and at atleast some area clinics.

There is no vaccine for norovirus, Hampston said.

As with most other illnesses, handwashing is an important way to prevent the prevention of both influenza and norovirus. Norovirus can survive on surfaces for 14 days or longer, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Health, making it all the more crucial that people take steps to prevent its spread.

Hampston also encouraged people to consider taking a sick day if necessary.

“When you’re sick, stay home. Don’t get others sick — they both spread very easy,” she said.


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