Flu in county

J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital pharmacist Todd Fortney goes over the supply of flu vaccinations. Though confirmed cases of the flu have been found in the county, the number is lower than last year this time.

Confirmed cases of the flu have been found in Huntingdon County this flu season, but according to J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital officials, the number isn’t as high as it was this time last year.

Information by the state Department of Health, six cases of the flu have been reported from Sept. 30, 2018, through Dec. 29, 2018.

“We have had confirmed cases of the flu,” said Shelly Brown, infection preventionist at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital,” she said. “Most of those cases have been Type A.”

All of the cases reported to the state Department of Health so far have been Type A.

But, according to Brown, the number of flu cases reported so far this year is fewer than what was reported in the 2017-18 flu season.

“We are seeing about half of what we’re seeing this time last year,” she said.

That is on par with information Amy Whitsel, nurse practitioner at the J.C. Blair Convenient Care Center, provided.

“The flu cases are just now starting to increase in numbers over the past week,” said Whitsel. “Although the numbers are not that high yet, that is anticipated to increase over the weeks to come since the flu has entered the county and the surrounding counties.”

Brown also noted flu season peaked later this month last year.

“Flu season generally peaks January or February,” she said. “Last year, it peaked at around week six and seven, with week one being the first week of the year for the state,” said Brown. “Last year, Huntingdon County had the most positive flu reported to the state during the month of February.”

A reason behind the lower numbers from last year could be related to the mild weather, as more people are spending less time indoors in confined spaces as the weather has been warmer in recent weeks.

Brown said people can always take steps to prevent the spread of the flu, with the most important step being to get a flu vaccination. Flu vaccinations are available at the hospital.

She also gave an important recommendation if one does contract the flu.

“If you get sick with flu, take prescription antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them,” said Brown. “Early treatment is especially important for the elderly, the very young, people with certain chronic health conditions, and pregnant women.”

Brown also gave tips to help spread any viruses, including the flu.

“Try to avoid close contact with sick people,” she said. “If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, the (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that you or your child stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

“While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them,” Brown added. “Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.”

Other tips Brown offered include washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, as germs spread this way; clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs that can cause respiratory illnesses like flu.”

“Always heed advice from public health officials regarding the flu,” said Brown. “This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.”

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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