It's official: flu season has arrived in Humboldt County.
Officials at Humboldt General Hospital confirmed this week that six patients
there have tested positive for flu. In Washoe County, more than three
dozen people are confirmed with the virus.
"The message for us is that now is the time to act preventively,"
said HGH Infection Control Nurse Ginger Tanner. "The best precautions
are getting a flu shot, being conscientious about hand washing, and if
you are ill, limiting your contact with others as much as possible."
Tanner said flu is a serious illness that results in hospitalization for
approximately 200,000 people each year; of those, the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention says an average of 23,000 will die.
That's the bad news. The even worse news is that this year's flu
season is ramping up earlier than last year's.
The CDC said last week that the flu is widespread in 29 of the 54 states
and territories that it tracks. This time last year, it was widespread
in only four.
Eleven children have died so far this year. Pregnant women and the elderly
are also especially vulnerable.
Federal health officials warned earlier this month that much of the influenza
virus circulating in the United States this year has mutated.
Still, flu experts say that a flu shot is still the best method of protection
as it covers many different strains of flu.
Tanner said while local flu activity is currently low, the incidence of
cases in Nevada and in the United States usually peaks between December
and February, so anyone who has not yet received a flu vaccine should
do so now.
The following measures will help prevent local residents from contracting
or spreading the disease.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that people not travel while they are
ill. People with flu-like symptoms should wait to travel until at least
24 hours after their fever has subsided without the use of fever-lowering
Those who become ill while traveling should postpone traveling home until
they are well.
For more information about seasonal flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm.