No deaths, vaccines are still available
Flu season in Mono County has officially begun.
The number of influenza cases steadily increased this past week, according to Mono County’s Public Health Officer Dr. Rick Johnson, and along with it, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
“This is not unexpected, but heightens our concern, and should make us pay attention,” he said. “We are seeing increased visits to healthcare providers, positive laboratory tests, emergency department visits, and hospitalizations.”
The increase in flu cases forced Mammoth Hospital to restrict visitors in the hospital to family members in an attempt to slow the spread of the flu.
“Due to our increase in influenza patients in the Mono County area, Mammoth Hospital is restricting patient visitors to family members only,” said Lori Cicarrelli, the hospital’s community relations director. “Please check in at the hospital’s front desk or nurses’ station when visiting as you will be escorted to the patient’s room.”
There have been no deaths in the county as of this week, Johnson said, but the same cannot be said for the country.
“In the nation, over 50 percent of the hospitalizations and over 90 percent of the deaths have been among seniors,” he said. “However, over 30 children have also died.”
This year’s flu season arrived late in California, but it is expected to cause the same problems it caused across the country. This season has been deemed the “worst in decades” for influenza.
“Recent deaths in Southern California include a 4-year-old who died after being taken to the emergency room, and a 22-year-old who died after a brief hospitalization,” Johnson said. “Influenza is now considered to be widespread throughout California.”
The county ran low on vaccines last week, but according to health department officials, that problem has been alleviated. Officials said they believe there is enough to meet the anticipated demand.
According to health officials, the vaccine increases the chances of not getting the flu by 62 percent, but it takes two weeks to become effective.
Those considering getting a flu shot need to be aware that time is critical, Johnson said.
What should you do to reduce your chance of getting sick?
• Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs and grocery carts. Keep your hands away from your face.
• Drink plenty of fluids, eat well, and get adequate rest.
What should you do if you have the flu?
• Stay home at least until you are fever free without medication for 24 hours.
• Cover your cough with your arm or sleeve.
• Drink plenty of fluids, treat your fever, and rest.
• Call your healthcare provider if you are concerned, if your symptoms are severe or fail to improve, especially if you are at higher risk for complications (pregnant, young children, seniors, those with chronic medical conditions such as lung and heart problems, diabetes, kidney disease, immunosuppression).
• Talk to your healthcare provider about an antiviral medication like Tamiflu within 48 hours of getting sick.
• At the provider’s office, follow instructions for wearing a mask and washing your hands.
• Ask all personnel interacting with you at the provider’s office if they have been immunized. If they have not, request that someone work with you that has received their flu vaccine this season.