MASON CITY — The first case of influenza has been confirmed in Cerro Gordo County.

CG Public Health disease prevention assistant manager Jeni Stiles says if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, now is the time to get it.  “I think it’s important if people haven’t had their flu vaccines to seek that out. There’s plenty of it in the community, whether you stop by Public Health and get it done, they have it at pharmacies now, get a hold of your doctor, just make sure you get that flu shot. It can take up to two weeks for that flu shot to take effect, so we want to get it as soon as we can.”

Stiles says you’ll be better protected from the flu if you’ve been vaccinated.   “We know the strains that we are seeing right now are covered in the flu vaccine for this year. It’s important to have a flu shot to help protect yourself. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t get influenza, but if you did, it would make it less severe. It’s just important to have the flu shots so that we protect others in our family and that too.”

Stiles says people often confuse influenza with stomach-related viruses that are common this time of the year.  “I think that’s a common misconception that people think that if they’re vomiting and having diarrhea and that they have influenza, when influenza is actually a respiratory infection. It’s going to be more like a fever, you’re going to get the body aches, chills, most likely you’re going to be really tired, could have a cough, sore throat, where if we have the stomach bug, we have the diarrhea and the nausea and vomiting.”

Stiles says if you think you have the flu, you should consider seeing a doctor.  “The flu can be a mild Illness but there is medication that doctors can provide. It’s an antiviral medication but it has to be taken within the first few days of becoming sick for it to be effective. What it does is it just decreases the severity of the illness.”

Stiles says if you think you have the flu, especially here during the holiday season, stay home to avoid spreading it around to others.