By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), influenza activity in the state of North Carolina is considered “widespread” and the number of ILI (influenza-like illness) cases are considered “moderate” as of Saturday, Jan. 19. According to officials at Cherokee Indian Hospital, cases are down from last year.
“This year, we have had a total of 200 cases of influenza (flu),” said Sheyahshe Littledave, Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority (CIHA) public relations officer. “There have been 72 cases of type A and 32 cases of type B. Last year, at this time, we had 332 cases, so it has decreased.”
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports there have been 23 total flu deaths since Sept. 30, 2018. No deaths have been reported in Cherokee.
Sally Penick, CIHA infection control manager, states, “Taking the influenza immunization not only protects the person that takes it, but it can prevent the spread of the flu to those that are infants, elders, and those with a weakened immune system. And, it is possible to get the flu even if you had the vaccine. Sometimes, you may have symptoms like the flu and your test is negative, but it may be negative early in the development of the flu or it may be a virus that is similar to the flu.”
She suggests people take the following measures to help prevent the spread of influenza: get a vaccine, wash your hands frequently, stay home when you feel sick, cough into your elbow or a tissue, and dispose of the tissue and wash your hands afterwards.
Littledave said, “The flu vaccine given at CIHA this year was a quadrivalent which means it prevents four different strains of the flu. Each year, the flu vaccine is developed based on the types of flu that people got the year before.”
She noted that the hospital is taking precautions to help prevent the spread of the virus. Visitations for both inpatient and the emergency room are restricted with visitors not being allowed in patient areas. One adult is allowed to accompany children. Hospital employees have been vaccinated and have received mandatory hand-washing education.
The Cherokee Indian Hospital does walk-in flu shots every day. Littledave said patients should come to the front desk at Primary Care and request a shot. No appointment is necessary.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the flu may include: a temperature of 100 degree Fahrenheit or higher; a cough and/or sore throat; a runny or stuffy nose; headaches and/or body aches; chills; fatigue; nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.