Tag Archives: flu

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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Flu Update

Eastern Sierra Flu Update

Inyo and Mono County public information officer Dr. Richard Johnson is urging folks to gear up for flu season.  Dr. Johnson has submitted the following report.

Flu Season May Be Severe
It’s time to turn our attention away from Ebola for a moment, and focus on influenza. Two people have died from Ebola so far in the United States, but many thousands are expected to die from influenza infections and complications this winter.
Current Situation
The flu season has begun earlier than last year, with high levels of illness being reported from states in the southeast. Five pediatric deaths have been reported so far. Over 500 hospitalizations have been reported nationally. Southern California is reporting increased flu activity, with an outbreak in a long-term care facility occurring already. Only sporadic activity has been reported in the Eastern Sierra so far.
Two additional facts are cause for concern:
Influenza A (H3N2) viruses are most common so far (91% of 1,200 specimens tested). Seasons in which this strain predominates are associated with more severe illness and death, especially in older people and young children.
More than half of the specimens analyzed so far indicate that the virus circulating in the community has mutated. This means that the vaccine will not be as effective as it usually is.
What Should You Do?
1.Get your flu vaccination from you healthcare provider, pharmacy, or health department. This is still the single most important thing you can do to prevent serious illness or death from the flu. Getting a vaccine that provides at least partial protection may be more important than ever. Even though there may be decreased protection against the drifted strains, cross protection may reduce the likelihood of severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death. The time to act is NOW, since the vaccine takes effect after 2 weeks. This means you have little time to get vaccinated before seeing grandma or the grand-kids during the holiday season. Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all persons aged >6 months, and is particularly important for persons who are at increased risk for severe complications from the flu, including:
a.all children aged 6 months through 5 years of age and persons >64 years of age
b.anyone who has chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatitis, neurological, or metabolic disorders
c.persons who have suppressed immune systems due to disease or medication
d.women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
e.children and adolescents on long-term aspirin therapy
f.residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
g.American Indians/Alaska Natives
h.Persons who are morbidly obese (BMI>39)

2.As always, but even more important this year, people at high risk for serious flu complications should see a health care professional promptly if they get flu symptoms, even if they have been vaccinated. There are 2 prescription drugs that can be used to treat the flu or to prevent infection with flu viruses following exposure. Treatment with these antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of the illness. They can make your illness milder and shorter, and can lessen the risk of being hospitalized or dying from the flu. They are effective across all age and risk groups.

3.And, of course, take everyday preventive actions to prevent infection with and spread of infections:

a.Cover your coughs and sneezes with your sleeve or elbow
b.Stay away from sick people
c.Stay home from work or school if you are sick
d.Wash your hands often

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