Flu taking its toll
Classrooms, offices, and factories in Emmet County were seeing more people absent this week as influenza made its presence known.
Sandy Fandel, nurse at Estherville Lincoln Central High School, noted there were a lot of students absent due to flue.
Pharmacist Amy Deim at Estherville Drug said, “The flu has been going around.”
Deim said there still appears to be adequate supplies of Tamiflu antiviral prescription medication. Deim said anyone who is around those who have had the flu can take Tamiflu once a day for 10 days. Those who already have the flu take it twice a day.
“We’ve been ordering ahead,” Deim said, noting 10-15 Tamiflu sales a day.
Pharmacist Lorri Beaver at Hy-Vee said there appear to be adequate supplies of Tamiflu on hand.
“We don’t have any trouble getting it,” Beaver said, as long as supplies are ordered ahead.
When the flu comes, it can come all at once, and in a big way. Beaver said an entire basketball team from Algona came down with it at the same time.
“It’s widespread in Emmet County,” said Emmet County Public Health Director Karen Moritz who gets her reports from state Infection Control. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many flu cases there are throughout the county since residents might go to medical providers outside Emmet County.
Moritz reports cases of both Influenza A and B. Both strains can range from mild to severe, she said.
Those most susceptible to complications from the flu are children under 2 and elderly over 64. Flu cases are now affecting every age group throughout the state, she said. “It’s not age-specific this year,” Moritz noted.
Moritz said the best way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands frequently and stay away from people who are coughing or who are showing other signs of respiratory illness. Flu symptoms in adults include sore throat, fever, and coughing with intestinal symptoms more common in children.
If you do come down with the flu, taking plenty of fluids and getting a lot of sleep is a good idea.
Health-care providers may prescribe an antiviral mediation, such as Tamiflu, to ease symptoms through the five-to-seven-day period in which they normally occur.
Emmet County Public Health has flu vaccine for children under 18 who are on the state health insurance program or who don’t have insurance. A $6 donation is suggested for those who can afford to pay. Others can obtain flu vaccine from their health-care provider.
Moritz said the current flu bout started in early February. She said the flu season normally peaks in mid January and ends in late February.
“It’s more widespread this year than it has been in the past three years,” she said.