Flu epidemic spreads across nation
However, state health officials say the flu rate “remains moderate” so far in Oregon.
“While we are seeing some uptick of the flu, particularly H3N2, we are not seeing the rates that other states, particularly those on the East Coast and in the South, are experiencing,” said Dr. Richard Leman, public health physician in the Oregon Health Authority’s acute and communicable disease prevention section.
“We can make sure things don’t get worse by taking action now. People can protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated and washing their hands regularly.”
Most of the cases seen so far have been of the seasonal type A matching this year’s vaccine. That vaccine is proving more than 60 percent effective, according to a recent study.
In Yamhill County, Public Health is conducting a survey of area providers and pharmacies to determine the amount of vaccine remaining available, according to spokeswoman Sarah Bates. She said national providers are producing more than usual this year, so there should be no shortage or delay in obtaining shots.
Information about local providers can be obtained by calling 211 or visiting www.flu.oregon.gov.
Statewide, 2.8 percent of outpatient visits have been for flu or its symptoms, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
In some parts of the country, including the South, there are indications the season may already have peaked. However, officials are not taking that for granted.
The arrival of flu season coincided with increases in some diseases with flu-like symptoms, including a new norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. That may have contributed to the heavy hospital and clinic traffic in harder-hit areas, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
To help prevent spreading the virus, Leman recommends taking the following steps:
n Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.
n Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after sneezing.
n Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
n Wear a mask if you have a weakened immune system.
n Avoid close contact with sick people, and stay home if you are sick yourself.
n Clean work and household surfaces often.
n Get a flu shot.
n Get plenty of sleep and exercise, and maintain a nutritious diet.
Severe symptoms should trigger an emergency room visit, including:
n Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
n Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
n Sudden dizziness or confusion.
n Severe or persistent vomiting.