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Disease Spotlight


Influenza


What is influenza? 

Influenza is commonly referred to as "the flu." It is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

What are the symptoms of flu?
Symptoms of flu may include fever (though not everyone with flu will have a fever), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue (tiredness), chills, and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 days after exposure. Although most people are ill for less than a week, some people have complications and may need to be hospitalized.

Who gets influenza?
Influenza can infect persons of all ages. The flu can be especially serious for babies, children, pregnant women, adults 65 years and older, people with certain long-term medical conditions (e.g., lung disease, heart disease, cancer, or diabetes), or those with weak immune systems. However, even healthy people can get the flu and should protect themselves by getting the flu vaccine every year.

What everyday steps can I take to stop the spread of germs?
There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

For additional information on Influenza, please visit the VDH Influenza Webpage.


Whooping Cough

Pertussis (“whooping cough”) is a highly contagious disease. Adolescents and adults can easily spread it to infants, who experience the most severe symptoms.  At first, Pertussis can seem just like a regular cough or cold, but the illness can get worse. It can include a persistent, hacking cough severe enough to cause vomiting and even break ribs. Pertussis can last up to three months or more.

Pertussis can be extremely serious:

  • More than half of infants less than one year of age with Pertussis must be hospitalized
  • About one in 10 children with Pertussis get pneumonia
  • Although rare, other complications from whooping cough may include seizures, brain disorder and even death.

How can you help protect babies from getting Pertussis (whooping cough)?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccination to replace one dose of tetanus and diphtheria (Td). Tdap can be administered to all individuals seven years or older, and is especially recommended for:

  • People who live with or take care of infants less than one year of age
  • Women who might become pregnant
  • New mothers – before leaving the hospital
  • Healthcare personnel

The Commonwealth of Virginia REQUIRES Tdap vaccination for ALL rising 6th graders.

Ask your doctor or contact us about vaccination today!

For more information, see our fact sheet on Whooping Cough and vaccination and visit http://cdc.gov/pertussis/


Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease: The most common tick-borne disease in Virginia
Ticks
Basic facts about Lyme disease:  
Lyme disease is a bacterial disease you can get if bitten by a black-legged (deer) tick infected with an organism named Borrelia burgdorferi. Symptoms can include a rash that looks like a bulls-eye, followed by flu-like symptoms. Long term symptoms include joint pain and swelling, cardiac and nervous system disorders. People of any age can get Lyme disease. It occurs more frequently during the summer in people who work or recreate outdoors and thus have a greater chance of coming into contact with infected ticks. You can get Lyme disease more than once, so it is important to take action to prevent tick bites even if you’ve been diagnosed in the past.
 When the warm weather months arrive, people spend more time outdoors, and there are more opportunities for becoming infected with tick-borne disease. Lyme disease, while preventable, is the most common tick-borne infection reported in Virginia. In 2010, more than 1200 Lyme disease cases were reported statewide. 

Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that Lyme disease activity spreads southward and westward from the northern regions of Virginia as part of an overall expansion in the eastern United States. Since 2000, the number of newly identified Lyme disease cases reported in Virginia has steadily increased, and in 2007, reports of Lyme disease increased dramatically and have remained high since that time. 
  
Decrease the risk of acquiring Lyme and other tick-borne diseases when spending time in tick habitats by:

  • Conducting a tick check on yourself and your children every four to six hours and promptly removing any ticks.
  • Wearing light colored clothing so that ticks are easier to see and remove.
  • Tucking pant legs into socks or boots, tucking shirts into pants, and wearing long-sleeved shirts buttoned to the wrist.
  • Applying tick repellent to exposed areas of the body and to clothing that may come into contact with grass or brush.

Other ways to avoid being exposed to ticks include:

  • Keeping grass and underbrush thinned in yards.
  • Eliminating wood piles and objects that provide cover and nesting sites for small rodents around your property.
  • Checking for and promptly removing ticks found on your pets.
  • Asking your veterinarian to recommend tick control methods for your pets.   

For more information about Lyme and other tick-borne disease, please visit:
http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/Epidemiology/factsheets/Lyme.htm
  
Tick removal:
Tick Removal

  • If you have a tick on you, remove it promptly.
  • Gripping the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and use a gentle steady pulling action.
  • Protect hands with gloves, cloth or tissue when removing ticks from people or animals.
  • Seek medical care if a rash appears from a known tick bite. 

 


Last Updated: 05-08-2013

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