Park Rapids flu cases average
By Nick Longworth
So far the year in the Park Rapids community has been a mild one; that is, in regards to influenza cases, not the average temperature.
“We have had five laboratory-confirmed influenza cases here at St. Joseph’s and no patient admissions related to influenza so far,” said Wendy Gullicksrud, Infection Preventions and Employee Health Nurse.
“So far I believe this is a typical influenza season, but usually we see our peak of the season in February, so it may change in this coming month,” Gullicksrud said.
Data from the Minnesota Lab System (MLS) Labortatory Infleunza Surveillance Program provided by RaeAnn Mayer, Community Health Manager at St. Joseph’s Area Health Services, shows that the number of positively reported influenza cases across Minnesota is down roughly 50 percent over the 2012- 2013 season at this time.
However, the number of cases is still in-line with the average in previous years.
“The 2013-14 percent specimens positive for Influenza is pretty typical as compared to the past years. The most common strain is H1N1, which is included in the flu vaccine,” Mayer said.
Mayer believes although the year hasn’t been as harsh as it has in the past, it’s still a good idea to exercise caution in the coming months ahead.
“There is still time to receive the vaccine. If you get sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as you can to keep from spreading your illness to others; rest and drink lots of fluids. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
Wash your hands often with soap and water,” Mayer said.
“Watch for symptoms of more serious illness and call your health care provider if you or a family member has symptoms you are concerned about, such as a very high fever. Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and possible treatment are needed. Your health care provider may also prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu, and these drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started,” Mayer said.
Gullicksrud agrees with Mayer’s advice, also offering some of her own while understanding that most people don’t like the “flu shot.”
“Get the vaccine,” Gullicksrud said, “this is the best way we have to protect yourself and your family. They also have a nasal spray that some people can have (instead of the shot), but it’s a very small needle formula now and you don’t even feel it.”