By David Rogers. January 13, 2017. BLOWING ROCK, NC — Talk to different people and you usually get an entirely different description of whatever sickness ailed them in recent weeks. Some had high fevers with a sore throat, shaking chills, a headache and a stuffy or runny nose. Some couldn’t get 10 feet away from the bathroom for fear of vomiting. Still others didn’t feel well, but kept working through it.
Every year it seems like “seasonal flu” hits hardest in the winter months. If it is not compromising one or more family members during the holidays, it’s affecting student attendance at school, as well as having an adverse impact in the workforce. One High Country educator told Blowing Rock News this week that in their school of around 300 students, at least 50 were out with the flu.
The December 30th edition of “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” (MMWR) published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, it was reported, “Influenza activity in the United States remained low in October and has been slowly increasing since November. Influenza A viruses were identified most frequently, with influenza A (H3N2) viruses predominating.”
Almost 43% of positive influenza cases occurred within an 8-state region of the South…
The good news: the MMWR report added, “Most influenza viruses characterized during this period were genetically or antigenically similar to the reference viruses representing vaccine components recommended for production in the 2016-17 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccines.”
The bad news for our region is that among the positive influenza results reported by clinical laboratories in the U.S., almost 43% occurred within an 8-state region of the South for influenza A and a whopping 66% for influenza B. Nationwide, MMWR said that persons aged 65 and older accounted for approximately 53% of influenza-related hospitalizations.
With public schools, as well as colleges and universities starting to come back into session this week, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) was proactive in distributing even more information about influenza and how to combat a respiratory (flu) virus, stomach virus or another virus by taking preventative measures.
Blowing Rock School is running about 5-8% of students absent because they are sick and that is right at our average.
Principal Patrick Sukow told Blowing Rock News on Friday that Blowing Rock School takes extra special precautions during the school year to prevent the spread of diseases that might circulate around the campus, especially during flu season. “Our students, faculty and staff are great about being really conscientious about taking steps not to spread viruses like the flu. Of course we have had some incidences of the flu this year,” Sukow said, “but we are running about 5%-8% of the student body at any one time being absent because they are sick and that is right on our average.”
ARHS recommends getting the flu vaccine, as a first step. It adds, “Wash your hands frequently, especially after blowing nose, coughing, sneezing being with ill people and especially before you eat if you are vomiting or have diarrhea.”
ARHS, the High Country’s largest health provider also lists other steps to take:
- Avoid sharing objects (examples: drinking glasses, utensils, etc.)
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes (face)
- Get enough sleep and avoid getting “run down”
- Reduce stress
- Use tissues for coughs/sneezes and dispose of them immediately
- Eat right and drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid crowds and keep your distance from people whom you know are ill
- If you are sick, avoid contact with the frail, very young and elderly. Do not visit friends or family at hospitals, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
People with the flu should consult with their physician. Need more information about the flu?