Flu season sees slow start; activity increases in Moffat County
CRAIG — Flu season started slowly across the United States, but cases have begun to increase locally, and vaccinations are still available from area providers.
“We have been seeing a mixture of influenza, strep, viral colds and viral stomach bugs through the Convenient Care Clinic most recently,” said Maggie Schoeberl, a physician assistant at the Urgent Care Clinic at Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic.
Most of these common ailments, with the exception of strep, are viral.
“We do not have an antibiotic we can give that will fix the problem. I think it is incredibly important to stress this to our community, as we often have patients request or become upset if they do not receive antibiotics,” Schoeberl said.
She tries to reassure patients that antibiotics are not always what’s best for them.
“This will not help and can actually create a much more severe problem, which is the creation of superbugs, resulting in resistance to these antibiotics in the future,” she said. “The best thing you can do if you know you have a virus is to stay home, rest, increase fluids and take appropriate over-the-counter remedies to avoid spread to other people.”
Providers can assist patients in determining if the illness is viral or bacterial.
Prevention is still recommended as the best course of action to avoid viral illnesses. As flu season usually peaks in February and can last until May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise it’s not too late to be vaccinated.
“Flu vaccination can vary in how well it works but remains the best way to prevent influenza illness and associated complications,” according to the CDC. “However, treatment with influenza antiviral medications close to the onset of illness is recommended for patients with confirmed or suspected influenza that have severe, complicated or progressive illness; who require hospitalization; or who are at high risk for influenza complications.”
To encourage people to be vaccinated, the CDC will hold National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 3 through 9 to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond.
The CDC and its partners chose December as a way to remind people that, even though the holiday season has begun, it is not too late to get a flu vaccine.
“As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout the flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against the flu,” the CDC said. “Even if you haven’t yet been vaccinated and have already gotten sick with flu, you can still benefit from vaccination, since the flu vaccine protects against three or four different flu viruses.”
Those who suspect they may have the flu or another viral illness are encouraged to take steps to protect others.
“Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets, meaning that it is transmitted through coughing and sneezing,” Schoeberl said. “It is important to be aware of this and wear a mask anytime you are around the public or family members and even if you just have a suspicion that you may have the flu.”
Illnesses such as influenza lower the immune system, making people more prone to ear infections, sinus infections and, more seriously, pneumonia.
“It is important to monitor your influenza symptoms for any abrupt, more severe changes in your symptoms or regression of the symptoms after initial improvement,” Schoeberl said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.