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Flu season is here: Protect yourself and your family from influenza

Author: Kayley Mendenhall, 1/17/2014 12:00:00 AM

Flu Info 2014

Flu season has arrived in Oregon and St. Charles Health System encourages community members to take important flu prevention precautions.

January tends to be the peak month for influenza cases in the region and the same is holding true this year so far, said Kari Coe, director of infection prevention at St. Charles.

"We have definitely seen an upswing in the number of tests and number of positive influenza cases in January," Coe said. "This is trending similar to last year where January was our heaviest hit month at two to three times higher than the previous three months combined."

The majority of the cases St. Charles is seeing at this point are influenza A, which is consistent with statistics throughout the state and nation. Coe said although specific testing has not been completed to determine the strain in each case, it is likely that the health system is seeing patients with H1N1, which is covered in this year's flu vaccine.

"The CDC has recently reported a number of cases of severe influenza illness, including ICU admissions and deaths, which disproportionately affects the young and middle aged," said Dr. Rebecca Sherer, infectious disease specialist at St. Charles. "The strain responsible is the same strain which caused the 2009 pandemic (H1N1), and it continues to circulate at high levels in the population."

Coe and Sherer, recommend the following steps to avoid contracting and spreading the flu:

  • Receive a flu vaccine
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and hot, running water
  • Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms including a fever, cough and body aches

St. Charles has not implemented visitor restrictions yet this flu season. But, hand-sanitizing stations are available at hospital entrances and people who are coughing, sneezing or showing visible flu-like symptoms are asked to wear a mask when entering St. Charles facilities.

For more information on the flu, please visit the Centers for Disease Control's flu site.