Alabama Department of Public Health announces high H1N1 activity

The Alabama Department of Public Health recently announced that Alabama is experiencing high H1N1 influenza activity and is encouraging the public to get vaccinated against the flu to prevent infection.

The Alabama Department of Public Health reported high H1N1 influenza activity across the state and in Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas and Oklahoma. It also reported that the geographic spread of the illness has been widespread the past three weeks.

Influenza type A, H1N1, is reported as the dominant strain in circulation this flu season. The H1N1 strain is responsible for the 2009 pandemic and most severely affects adults under 50 years of age.

Alabama health officials are encouraging all persons 6 months old and older to get vaccinated against the flu. This year's influenza immunization includes protection against the H1N1 strain. Flu vaccines are available intravenously or through a nasal spray and can help prevent against influenza infection, which can cause fever, sore throat, runny nose, headache, cough, stuffy nose, muscle aches and severe fatigue.

Alabama health officials are also recommending the public follow proper hygiene practices to increase prevention against infection, including washing hands frequently, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue or cloth when sneezing and coughing and staying at home to prevent the spread of infection if sick.

"Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others," Assistant State Health Officer Dr. Karen Landers said. "It's not too late to get a flu vaccination to protect against serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine."