BEATRICE – A recent update by the Centers For Disease Control shows 46 states at a high or widespread level for influenza…Nebraska, among them.
The flu bug hasn’t left out the Beatrice area. Coordinator of Infection Prevention and Employee Health at Beatrice Community Hospital, Rose Wischmeier, says the hospital saw a spike in activity during the first couple of weeks, in December within its’ clinics and emergency department.
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During December, the hospital saw 52 out of 229 tests indicate a positive presence of influenza…a rate of 23%. The State of Nebraska’s most recent rate was 25% of those tested. Wischmeier says the good news is that the incidence of flu has since slowed down, locally.
Wischmeier says the flu typically peaks in January or February, but it has peaked as early as October or November, in the past. She says the December spike hit quickly, prompting the hospital to implement its’ policy on employee vaccination.
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Wischmeier suspects early holiday gatherings of people may have been one factor in the spread of the flu. She cautions that a second peak in the flu season is possible, with people in close contact during events such as high school sports tournaments. The H3N2 flu virus that is causing the problem this year has hit hard at the elderly and very young.
Most of the cases seen at the Beatrice hospital in December, involved elderly patients. But, the CDC has already reported 13 pediatric deaths in the United States from influenza….so the illness can cut across all ages.
This year’s vaccine is said to be 10%-to-30% effective. Wischmeier says in a good year, a 60% effectiveness is reached.
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Wischmeier says it’s still worthwhile getting a flu shot, even though the season has been underway in full force.
If you have the flu, it’s important to isolate yourself. Stay home until you recover. Wischmeier says people can be contagious a day before being affected by the illness.
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The best way to ward off the illness before it strikes, involves a few easy steps.
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If you have the flu, Tylenol, Ibuprofen and Tamiflu are useful…along with getting plenty of liquids and rest.