Flu cases surge in the NorthlandSeven patients are currently hospitalized at Essentia Health in Duluth with confirmed influenza cases.
The Northland is experiencing a recent spike in flu cases, and across the country influenza is widespread as well, according to a release from Essentia Health spokeswoman Kim Kaiser. At Essentia Heath in Duluth, patients are coming to the Emergency Department and Urgent Care complaining of flu-like symptoms. Seven patients are currently hospitalized with confirmed influenza cases, with another dozen hospitalized patients waiting for test results.
Fortunately, this year’s flu vaccine is a good match for preventing the flu strains that are circulating in the community. Essentia Health flu experts say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Patients can call their doctor’s office to ask about getting the vaccine.
Other ways to prevent the flu include regular hand washing with soap and water or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Practice good “cough hygiene” by coughing into your elbow or a tissue, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Essentia Health is asking for the community’s help in reducing the risk of exposing hospitalized patients to the flu. Someone who's coming down with the flu can spread the illness a day before they start to develop symptoms. That's why healthcare providers are asking that hospital visitors be limited to significant others and immediate family members if possible.
Unlike a cold, which can develop slowly, the flu comes on fast. Symptoms include a fever of more than 100 degrees, along with a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, chills, body aches and fatigue.
For most people who are otherwise healthy, the flu can be treated at home. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. It’s important to stay away from work, school and public events for at least 24 hours after your fever goes away without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
But for the young, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, the flu can be dangerous – even life-threatening. Those at higher risk of complications from the flu include children under age 2, adults age 65 and older, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart and lung problems, and compromised immune systems, and women who are pregnant or have delivered a baby within the last two weeks. Those people should seek medical care for the onset of flu symptoms, so they can be prescribed an anti-viral medication if indicated.
Anyone with the flu who experiences difficulty breathing, confusion or dizziness, chest or abdominal pain/pressure, persistent vomiting, or a change in skin color to bluish or grey should seek medical attention as well.
If you get better for a few days and then your fever and cough return, contact your doctor as this could be a sign of a serious bacterial infection.