Dramatic Rise in Flu Activity in North Dakota
Friday, January 11, 2013
(01/11/13) BISMARCK, N.D. – There's been a dramatic increase in influenza activity in North Dakota, but health officials say it's not too late to get vaccinated.
Sarah Kaspari Baker, a family nurse practitioner at Northland Community Health Center in McClusky, says a vaccine is the best prevention against this year's flu, which has been a rough one.
"You have sudden onset, scratchy throat, runny nose like a faucet, and people are just going through boxes of Kleenexes, headaches, muscle aches. They feel like they've been run over by a truck."
Nearly 1,100 cases of influenza have now been reported to the North Dakota Department of Health, a significant jump from last week's figure of just over 600.
In addition to getting vaccinated, another key to stopping the spread is keeping your kids home when they are sick and doing the same yourself.
Baker recalls an outbreak in McClusky last April after the flu season was basically over – and then one person who became ill brought it back.
"And they were at two local businesses and they really, really infected the whole town. So stay home if you're sick, until you've been 'fever free' for at least 24 hours and then good cough etiquette and wash your hands."
Baker says if you do have the flu, you also want to treat your symptoms, get plenty of rest and lots of fluids, because the flu can leave you dehydrated and feeling worse. She also notes that if you spot the flu early enough there is treatment.
"The biggest thing is to recognize the signs of influenza early because we can treat it with Tamiflu, which is an anti-viral. So if you get into the clinic right away, we start you on Tamiflu, which actually limits how sick you get because it stops the virus from replicating."
For the Tamiflu to really be beneficial, Baker says it must be started within a couple days of the onset of symptoms.
John Michaelson, Public News Service-ND