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The Flu and You

Posted at 11 a.m.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. While seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase this time of year.

People who have the flu often experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Muscle or body aches.
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever (It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.)

The CDC recommends the following preventive measures to stay healthy this flu season, including:

  • Get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get a flu vaccine. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • Take daily actions to stop the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

Reprinted from FEMA’s Oct. 6 edition of “Individual and Community Preparedness e-Brief” email newsletter.

Four Ways to Fight the Flu

4 ways to fight the flue

Learn more about influenza and how to fight the flu from the Fairfax County Health Department.

NIH Begins Human Testing of Investigational Zika Vaccine

Posted at 2:15 p.m.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports today that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has launched a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection.

The early-stage study will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in participants. At least 80 healthy volunteers ages 18-35 years at three study sites in the United States, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., are expected to participate in the trial.

Scientists at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) developed the investigational vaccine — called the NIAID Zika virus investigational DNA vaccine — earlier this year.

Read more in this NIH news release. Learn more about Zika from the county’s Health Department, including flyers and posters you can print out and share, public service announcements and other resources.

Grill and Chill Safely with Summer Health Tips

Posted at 2:45 p.m.

Don’t spoil summer fun. Avoid foodborne illness and learn about pool safety in this video of tips from the Health Department.

Remember: Grills should be placed at least 15 feet from any home, building or combustibles to ensure adequate air circulation. For those of you who live in condos or apartments, never use a gas or charcoal fueled grill on your balconies; doing so is not only unsafe, but it’s also against the law.

Countywide Survey This Weekend About Emergency Preparedness

Posted at 1 p.m.

This Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5, our Health Department will be conducting a first-of-its-kind community assessment in a representative sampling of neighborhoods throughout the county.Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)

Through door-to-door surveys, we hope to get credible information about our community’s level of preparedness for emergencies. This information will be critical in improving our preparedness efforts and understanding how best to respond in times of disaster to meet our community’s needs.

The Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) is a tool developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enable government at all levels to rapidly assess a community’s health needs after a disaster, as well as to measure household preparedness for disasters or emergencies.

CASPER will involve choosing a random sampling of neighborhoods within the county that are weighted toward more populated areas. Seven houses within each tract will then be selected at random. This sampling methodology will allow for data to be extrapolated to the entire county.

CASPER identificationTo conduct the study, small teams of Fairfax Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers — supported by Health Department staff and Red Cross volunteers — will be visiting neighborhoods, going door-to-door, throughout the day on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon. Volunteers and staff will be wearing vests and identification badges.

Participation in the survey is confidential and voluntary; individuals may decline to participate when approached by interviewers. Each survey should take approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and will include general questions on the household and the people who live there, as well as questions about their knowledge of certain kinds of emergencies and disease threats and their personal preparedness.

Learn more: Flyer (PDF – English) | Flyer (PDF – Spanish) | Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Measles Case Confirmed; Risk of Exposures in Fairfax County

Posted at 12:20 p.m.

The Fairfax County Health Department is investigating a laboratory-confirmed case of measles. The individual is a child who was treated at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus but is no longer contagious.

While the child was age-appropriately vaccinated with one dose of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, it takes two doses of MMR vaccine to provide full protection against measles. At this time there are no other documented cases of measles in the area.

The individual was at several locations in Fairfax County in the past week and could have exposed others to the measles virus. The Health Department is attempting to notify anyone who may have been exposed while the patient was infectious to prevent further spread of measles.

Persons who were at the locations below during the times listed may have been exposed to the measles virus and should call the Health Department at 703-267-3511, (TTY 711) to determine their risk for measles. Preventative treatment may be recommended for those who were exposed and are unvaccinated and who may be at high risk, such as pregnant women, infants younger than 12 months and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Measles Exposure Public Sites

Location Date and Time
JoAnn Blanks Child Development Center (CDC)5901 Taylor Road, Bldg. 1207
Fort Belvoir, VA 22060
Wednesday, Sept. 30
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Pediatric Associates of Alexandria Springfield HealthPlex
6355 Walker Ln #401
Alexandria, VA 22310
Thursday, Oct. 1
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Springfield HealthPlex
6355 Walker Ln #401
Alexandria, VA 22310
Thursday, Oct. 1
1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Costco Wholesale Club
7940 Richmond Highway
Alexandria, VA 22306
Thursday, Oct. 1
2:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Pediatric Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus
Emergency Department
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
1 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus Women’s and Children’s Atrium (Lobby) & 5th floor
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4
5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Inova Fairfax Medical Campus Original Building, 1st-5th floor
3300 Gallows Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
Sunday, Oct. 4,  5 p.m. to Midnight
Monday, Oct. 5,
All hours


Measles is a highly contagious, serious respiratory disease. Symptoms can include fever greater than 101 degrees, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough, followed by a blotchy rash that appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles is particularly dangerous for infants who cannot be immunized until they are at least six months old.

Persons who were present at any of the locations listed above during the exposure times should call their health care provider if they experience any symptoms of measles. Contact your doctor’s office or the emergency room and tell them that you may have been exposed to measles.

The last date when a person would develop symptoms from this exposure is Oct. 26.

The Health Department is experienced in conducting measles outbreak investigations and is implementing its response plan to prevent further spread of the disease. The last confirmed case of measles involving Fairfax County was in May 2015. There were no secondary cases.

More Information

A call center has been established to address concerns and answer questions about measles. Anyone concerned about exposure to measles is encouraged to call the Fairfax County Health Department at 703-267-3511The call center hours are:

  • Oct. 8, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 9, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Oct. 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Oct. 11, Noon to 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 12, Noon to 6 p.m.

Visit the Fairfax County Health Department at or the Virginia Department of Health at

More about Measles


  • Typically appear 7-12 days after exposure to measles but may take up to 21 days
  • Begin with fever (101 F or higher), red, watery eyes, cough and runny nose
  • Followed by a rash that is red, raised and blotchy. The rash begins on the face at the hairline and moves down the body.

How it is spread:

  • Measles is spread through the air by breathing, coughing or sneezing and is highly contagious. The virus can live on surfaces or in an airspace where the infected person coughed or sneezed for up to two hours.
  • People with measles may be contagious up to four days before the rash appears and for four days after the day the rash appears.

Preventing measles:

  • People are protected against measles if they have been adequately vaccinated or if they have had measles in the past.
  • Two doses of MMR vaccine provide full protection against measles. Children routinely get their first dose of the vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age and the second dose at four to six years of age.
  • Use this opportunity to review your vaccination status and talk to your healthcare provider or local pharmacy about the availability of MMR vaccine. The Health Department also has MMR vaccine available for both children and adults.


  • There is no specific treatment for measles. People with measles need bed rest, fluids and control of fever. Patients with complications may need treatment specific to their condition.

What to do if you were at one of the above locations at the time specified:

  • If you have received at least one dose of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine in the past, your risk of being infected with measles from any of these exposures is very low. Certain groups of adults may be at increased risk for exposure to measles and should receive two doses of MMR, including college students, healthcare workers and international travelers.
  • If you or a family member has not received the MMR vaccination and you were present at one of the locations listed above during the exposure time, please call the Health Department at 703-267-3511 to be assessed for your risk of exposure.

What to do if you think you have measles:

  • Contact your health care provider by phone and let them know that you may have been exposed to measles.