You've got regular flu, not H1N1 -- feel better?
While symptoms and treatments are similar, cases being seen at the St. Mary's Innovis Health Center are the seasonal flu, not H1N1 flu.
"Symptoms are the same, and historically, they have affected the elderly," Jackie McKenzie, RN, infection prevention specialist, said of seasonal flu, but, H1N1 is affecting more younger children and pregnant women. "It's a different group of people affected this time."
What McKenzie and Diana Johnson, RN, chief nursing officer, can't stress enough is stay at home when flu symptoms surface.
"Stay at home and take care of yourself," McKenzie said.
Although flu season is beginning, McKenzie said the clinic hasn't seen anymore cases of flu than in the past, and Johnson added that there are no patients in the hospital for the flu at this point.
When people do come in with flu symptoms, they are being treated for seasonal flu and not H1N1, as per instructions from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Unless a cluster of people was to come in with the same symptoms, then they would be tested for H1N1. For example, like the 4-H youth at the state fair earlier this month.
Important tips for containing the spread of flu are covering your nose, mouth and cough; clean your hands with soap and water; avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay healthy with nutritious foods, and avoid visiting anyone in the hospital or nursing homes if you are sick. It's also important to stay hydrated.
McKenzie also encouraged everyone to get a flu vaccine, which is available to everyone. The H1N1 vaccine will be available in mid-October as well. Prime candidates for the H1N1 vaccine are children and young adults ages 5 months to 24 years and pregnant women.
"We stay current on all the recommendations," Johnson said of the Minnesota Department of Health.
To help the public stay current, St. Mary's is hosting two community education meetings Tuesday, Oct. 6, at noon in St. Mary's Innovis Health conference room A&B and Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 6 p.m. in St. Mary's Innovis Health cafeteria.
A lunch will be provided for the Oct. 6 meeting for $3. There is no charge for the Oct. 13 meeting.
If interested, RSVP for either session by calling 844-0719. McKenzie will be the speaker for both sessions.
More information can also be found on Minnesota Department of Health's Web site at www.health.state.mn.us, or by calling 1-877-676-5414.
"It's about protection for so many others than just yourself," McKenzie said.