Widespread flu outbreak affects Nevada | SierraSun.com

Widespread flu outbreak affects Nevada

Steve Ranson
Special to the Sun

An influenza epidemic has affected 49 of 50 states this season with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting Nevada as one of 26 states with high flu activity.

Hawaii is the only state not experiencing a widespread flu outbreak.

For a one-month period from Dec. 11 to Jan. 11, Banner Churchill County Hospital has reported 185 positive flu tests to the state. The figures do not include urgent care or the clinics.

Dr. Tedd McDonald, Churchill County’s health officer, said, however, Banner Churchill had more than 20 people visit the hospital or urgent care during the first week of January. McDonald said local schools may have avoided excessive absences due to the flu because students didn’t return to classes until the week of Jan. 7. McDonald said he didn’t have any information from Naval Air Station Fallon’s clinic.

 The CDC said the flu season is expected to last through March. McDonald said it’s still not too late to get a flu shot because inoculations can still prevent pneumonia and death. He also said all Banner Churchill employees have received a flu shot.

According to Banner Churchill, this has been a severe flu season with many patients experiencing flu earlier in the season and record numbers of people being infected. Since Oct. 1, though, Washoe County has reported seven deaths, and the Southern Nevada Health District said the number of confirmed cases in Clark County has tripled from previous years.

The CDC estimates between 12,000 to 56,000 flu-related deaths have occurred each year since 2010 in the United States, and about 100 of the 2016-2017 flu-related deaths occurred in children.

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The Banner Health system, which has the majority of its medical facilities in Arizona, reports more than 10,000 cases of flu in the state this year than at this time during last flu season. All Banner facilities including the Churchill County facility have adopted strict visiting rules in accordance to CDC guidelines: Do not visit the hospital if you have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea; visitors under the age of 13 are not allowed but siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may visit a new baby in the obstetrics or pediatric units; an adult must supervise children 12 and under in public waiting areas and cafeterias; and sanitize your hands frequently while at the hospital.

FLU SYMPTOMS

Banner Health has also released guidelines for people to protect themselves during the flu season.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST THE FLU?

Get a flu shot. It will help prevent the flu, and if you get the flu it will be less severe. It is not too late to get a shot at drug stores and urgent care sites.

Wash your hands regularly – especially before you eat, and whenever you are in public places. Try not to touch the area around your eyes, nose and mouth.

Understand that people are generally the most contagious 24 hours before they start having symptoms and during the time they have the most symptoms.

If visiting a health care facility, follow their guidelines regarding visitor restrictions. They are for the protection of patients and visitors.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FLU?

Fever and/or chills

Cough

Sore throat

Runny nose and/or congestion

Body aches

Headaches

Fatigue

WHAT CAN HELP ME FEEL BETTER IF I GET THE FLU?

Stay home and rest

Drink plenty of fluids

Motrin and Tylenol will help with fever, headaches and muscle aches

Antibiotics are not needed for viral infections like influenza

Antivirals can help in the very earliest stages of the illness

WHEN DO I SEEK MEDICAL CARE?

With plenty of rest, most patients recover from the flu in a week to 10 days.

The elderly, very young or those with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for flu complications and should seek out medical care if their condition worsens.

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE THE FLU?

If you or a family member needs care for flu-like symptoms, reach out to your primary care physician or visit an urgent care clinic.

Most flu symptoms can be managed in these care settings without visiting an emergency room. If you need emergency-level care, be prepared that Emergency departments are extremely busy.