Flu spreading faster this year

Thursday, January 11, 2018

PLYMOUTH CO. — While the number of influenza cases seem to be consistent to that a year ago, Bob Norfolk, Infection Control Manager with Floyd Valley Healthcare (FVH) said the flu seems to be spreading faster this year.

“To date, 46 states now report flu cases with more elderly deaths,” Norfolk said.

Since Dec. 1, FVH saw 17 patients test positive for Influenza Type A, with another 10 testing positive for Influenza Type B. There was one case of Flu A in November.

According to Norfolk, most of their cases have been children although they are also seeing a high number of young adults and elderly as well.

Norfolk said there are four types of Influenza A and two types of Influenza B, health professionals are concerned with.

“They all vary in what they are composed of and they are constantly changing, making it difficult to keep up with matching vaccinations,” Norfolk said. “Flu A’s are the most harmful. Influenza B has been less common in the past, but appears to be more active in the last few years.”

While flu season normally runs from October to May, peak months tend to be between December and March.

Norfolk said individuals with the flu typically present with a fever, cough or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and chills, headache and fatigue.

For those who have these symptoms, Norfolk said the first step is to “see your doctor.”

“People can and do die from untreated influenza, especially the young and elderly,” he said. “People with influenza are contagious from one day prior to the onset of the above symptoms to seven days after the symptoms appear. Stay home and get plenty of rest. Drink plenty of fluids and stay away from crowds. You should not return to work until you are fever free for 24 hours without the help of Tylenol or other fever reducers.”

For those patients who require to be hospitalized, Norfolk said FVH takes certain precautions for everyone’s best interest.

“Patients admitted to our hospital are placed in special isolation which requires certain protective clothing to be worn when entering the patient room. This assures the flu is not spread from room to room in the hospital as the staff cares for other patients,” Norfolk said. “Our motto is infection prevention at FVH is ‘patients come to us to get better, let’s keep it that way’. Anyone coming to the hospital/clinic for treatment or visitation are asked to please notify the staff if they have any of the above symptoms, so mask and hand washing may be provided upon entrance to the hospital/clinic.”

While the flu shot is not a guarantee an individual won’t get sick, Norfolk said its a good preventative.

“It is proven to lessen the symptoms and the time you are ill,” he said. “It is never too late to get the flu shot. We are in the peak months for the flu and it takes about two weeks for the body to build full immunity up once you have gotten the shot, although the body does build some immunity during those two weeks. The more people who have the shot, the less chances we have to get exposed to the flu.”

The flu shot should be given to any one six months or older and provides protection for the whole season.