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HEALTH : Nearing the End of Flu Season

January 13, 1994

It's almost over.

The nasty flu season has most likely peaked, health experts say, just when it seemed as though nearly everyone was falling prey to high fevers, coughs and muscle ache.

"The height is usually the holiday season," or about mid-December to mid-January, although some people catch the flu as late as April, said Anne MacPherson, a public health nurse for Pasadena's Health Department.

In fact, the county Department of Health Services stopped giving flu vaccinations Dec. 10, spokeswoman Sharon Wanglin said. Vaccinations may still be available through some private physicians for high-risk patients, such as people over 60 years of age or those with chronic diseases, she said.

County officials say this flu season hasn't been as severe as most people believe. It appears worse only because it started about a month earlier than usual--during the first week of November--and coincided with other upper-respiratory illnesses, said Dr. Carol Peterson, a county medical epidemiologist.

But local offices report that the flu and cold viruses are wiping out their staffs.

"Our (university) president has been coming in bravely for weeks, fighting off this or that," said Anna Ganahl, director of communications at Pitzer College in Claremont. "We've all been following suit."

Flu Tips

* Flu sufferers with major symptoms should stay home and rest the first three to five days.

* Eat lightly and drink plenty of fluids to keep the fever down.

* Those who experience severe symptoms, are chronically ill or have a pulmonary disease should see a doctor. Pneumonia and bronchitis are two possible complications of influenza.

* Antiviral drugs--such as amantadine or rimantadine--may shorten the duration of flu in adults if prescribed early.

* Parents should give young children and infants acetaminophen, like Tylenol, instead of aspirin to control fever.

Sources: County Department of Health Services, Pasadena Health Department.

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