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Rotary receives update on H1N1 flu in Emmet County

By Staff | Oct 23, 2009

Kathy Preston, Emmet County Public Health Director

Wash your hands.

Cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze.

Stay home if you’re sick.

Sound like something you learned in kindergarten? Well, it still applies.

Emmet County Public Health Director Kathy Preston told Estherville Rotarians Thursday about the status of H1N1 in the county and how people can help prevent the spread of one of the more misunderstood illnesses to hit the area in some time.

To date, Emmet County Public Health has had three clinics.

As Preston has said in previously released statements, the following groups have been targeted:

n Pregnant women.

n People who live with or care for children young than six months.

n Health-care and emergency medical services personnel with direct patient contact.

n Children six months through four years.

n Children five through 18 years who have chronic medical conditions.

Preston also explained why H1N1 has not been readily available to all of the general public.

“It’s not a shortage. It’s just delayed shipments,” Preston said.

The vaccine couldn’t be coming too soon, though, considering that H1N1 is gaining a foothold in Emmet County.

“We’re seeing a lot of H1N1 in the county and outside counties. School absenteeism has been pretty high,” Preston said.

Even if a person thinks he or she has had H1N1, Preston recommends that person get vaccinated.

“If it’s influenza-like illness, it’s probably H1N1,” Preston said, noting that the seasonal flu usually hits in November. She said though that another wave of H1N1 can be expected.

Preston advised that a person wash hands, cough into an elbow and stay home if ill – 24 hours after a person is free of fever is a good guideline.

While there’s no need to wait between seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccines, Preston said someone who has nasal spray vaccine for seasonal flu needs to wait 28 days before being vaccinated for H1N1.

Both Preston and Dr. Jim Creech, another fellow Rotarian, addressed a question from Scott Taylor about serious complications of H1N1.

Preston said if a person has trouble breathing that’s an indication of a serious condition. Other signs are blueness around the lips, especially in children, and extended high temperatures.

Dr. Creech said dizziness, a sign of dehydration, is also symptom to note. He said if a person has a second spike in temperature that could indicate a secondary condition. “The most important thing is stay in if you’ve got it,” Dr. Creech said.

Regarding target groups, Preston said Emmet County Public Health is following Centers for Disease Control and Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines.

Dr. Creech noted that those providing direct care to children, one of the target groups, indicates those who are within three feet of a patient.

Anyone with questions about H1N1 may call 1-800-447-1985 or go online to www.idph.state.ia.us for more information.