MT. VERNON — A spike in the number of influenza cases has resulted in area hospitals requesting visitors who may have flu-like symptoms to stay home.
In nearby Indiana, where there is an outbreak of influenza, hospitals have placed a moratorium on visitors.
Good Samaritan Regional Health Center in Mt. Vernon and St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia are reporting an increase in severe respiratory illnesses related to H1N1, according to a news release.
Another facility, Crossroads Community Hospital, has established a flu vaccine hotline for consumers to enable to learn more about availability and
locations to receive the influenza vaccination.
To help slow the spread of the flu, Good Samaritan Employee Health Nurse Deb Manning states, “We really encourage you and your children to stay home if you’re sick.” She added, “Common symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose and body aches. In some people these symptoms are much more severe than in others. And, unlike a cold where you typically feel it coming on slowly, with flue the symptoms are dramatic.”
Because of the severity of the flu this year, doctors are urging people to get the influenza vaccine if they have not already done so. It is believed the flu season has not yet peaked in our area and could spread for at least another month or longer.
“Most people we have seen who are sick enough to be hospitalized did not have a vaccine,” stated Dr. Christi Foster, Emergency Medicine Physician at Crossroads.
According to a Jefferson County Health Department report, the H1N1 strain of the flu has been the most commonly reported in our area and disproportionately affects younger patients, many who have not previously received flu vaccines.
Also canvassing the community this year is norovirus, which is more commonly called the “stomach flu.” It’s characterized by a sudden onset of diarrhea and vomiting that typically lasts about one to three days.
Manning says it comes on so fast that you literally can wake up feeling fine but feel terrible by the time you get to work.
“Cleaning your home is really important if a family member is sick,” Manning advised. “It doesn’t take many of these virus particles in someone else. That means if your family member has it, you really need to use a bleach towelette and wipe down high-touch surfaces like your cupboard handles, light switches, remote controls, door knobs, faucet handles — anywhere the infected individual would frequently have touched.”
All Crossroads Physician Corporation primary care physician offices are still offering flu vaccines for adults and a limited number of pediatric doses are still available. Pediatric doses are for children ages 6 months through 36 months.
To receive more information about availability and locations, you may call the influenza hotline at (618) 241-7440.