Influenza cases on the rise in Imperial County

0

h1n1-influenza-virus 

The number of individuals seeking medical care for influenza-like illness has increased in recent weeks. 

 

IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department announced today that there has been an increase in the number of individuals seeking medical care due to influenza in Imperial County in recent weeks.  Over the past two weeks, there have been 32 hospitalizations for severe acute respiratory infections reported; about one-third of the cases have been in intensive care units.

This is more than three times higher than the number of cases hospitalized at the same time last year. Many of the hospitalized cases, as well as those who sought care in outpatient clinics for influenza-like illness, had not been vaccinated against influenza.

Dr. Stephen Munday, County Health Officer stated, “Influenza activity is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks to months and for that reason, vaccination against influenza is strongly recommended.  All persons six months of age and older, including health-care personnel, should receive a flu shot now if they have not yet received one this flu season.”

In California, as well as elsewhere in the country, there have been an increasing number of reports of critically ill children and young and middle-aged adults with complications associated with influenza. To date, there have been four influenza-associated deaths in individuals less than 64 years of age reported statewide. There have been no fatalities in Imperial County associated with influenza.

In Imperial County, most of the hospitalized cases so far this flu season have been elderly (aged 65 or older) or children less than 4 years old. However, there have been a growing number of hospitalized cases between 19 and 64 years of age in recent weeks. Nearly all the hospitalized cases were diagnosed with pneumonia, and most had underlying conditions.

The Imperial County Public Health Department started administering flu shots on October 1st 2013 and has hosted flu clinics for seniors throughout the County as well as an evening clinic at the Imperial Valley Mall.  Flu shots are available at the Public Health Department on a walk-in basis during regular work hours.  In addition, flu vaccine is available with local physicians, community clinics and local pharmacies.  Individuals who wish to receive the flu shot from their doctor will need to contact their healthcare provider directly about the availability of flu vaccine.

Influenza is an acute respiratory illness that is spread from infected persons to the throat or nose of others. Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches.  Some people, such as older adults, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at higher risk for suffering serious complications from the flu. There are steps you can take in your daily life to help protect you from getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

For more information regarding the flu vaccine please contact the Imperial County Public Health Department’s Immunization Program at (760) 482-4906 or send an email to deniseandrade@co.imperial.ca.us .  Information will also be available on Facebook and twitter. To find a flu shot, visit Health Map Vaccine Finder