Eastern Sierra Flu Update

Flu activity is up

Inyo and Mono County Public heath officer, Dr. Richard Johnson is offering an update of flu activity, stressing the importance of early treatment for those at high risk of complications….Over the last month, seasonal influenza has spread rapidly across the United States in epidemic proportions. Evidence also points to a dramatic rise in cases seen last week at Sierra Park Clinics and Mammoth Hospital’s Emergency Department in Mammoth Lakes.
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. Many people use “stomach flu” to describe illness with nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Many different viruses, bacteria, or parasites can cause these symptoms. While the flu can sometimes cause vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea—more commonly in children than adults — these problems are rarely the main symptoms of the flu. The flu is a respiratory disease and not a stomach or intestinal disease.
Approximately 5-20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year. It typically starts in late fall, and peaks in mid-February, although it looks like the peak will be in mid-January this year. Nevada has been hit hard, and cases in California are increasing rapidly.
Most experts believe that you get the flu when a person with the flu coughs, sneezes, or talks and droplets containing their germs land in your mouth or nose. You can also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Some groups are more likely to experience complications from the seasonal flu, including:
Seniors (those age 65 and older)
Children (especially those younger than 2)
People with chronic health conditions
If you believe you have the flu, and especially if you are in one of the categories at high risk for complications, please contact your health care provider early, as antiviral medication may be indicated to prevent serious illness or complications for you.

Complications from the flu include:
Bacterial pneumonia
Ear or sinus infections
Dehydration
Worsening of chronic health conditions
Each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized for flu-related complications, and more than 25,000 die each year, including dozens of children, some with no pre-existing conditions.
Most people who get the flu feel much better within one or two weeks. Most healthy adults can infect others one day before symptoms develop and five to seven days after symptoms appear. Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be contagious for a longer period.
We will continue to monitor flu activity in our community over the next few months. We do this by tabulating positive laboratory tests, school absenteeism rates, hospitalizations and deaths, and clinic and Emergency Department visits for flu-like illness.
During this season, we ask you to:
1. Get your flu vaccine from your healthcare provider, pharmacy, or health department!! The best protection against seasonal flu is the flu vaccine. Although not a perfect match this year, getting a vaccine is still the single most important thing you can do to prevent illness. It is late – but not too late!
2. Stay away from people who are sick as much as possible.
3. Stay home if you are sick.
4. Follow the everyday steps such as washing your hands frequently and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
5. Seek medical care early if you are at risk for complications.

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