Dr is In - February 2013

The Doctor Is In

Gail Hacker MD
Gail Hacker, MD

February 2013

Flu Season 2013

"We are currently experiencing a higher than usual..."

How many times do you hear that on robo-calls? Well, what we are currently experiencing is a higher than expected number of cases of influenza in this country. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) is warning health care professionals to anticipate a "moderate to severe" flu season. The good news is that they seem to have anticipated which strains of the flu virus were most likely coming our way, and those who got flu shots are much less likely to get the flu than those who didn't. The bad news is that flu shots are getting scarce.

I would like to repeat and reinforce information contained in previous editions of this newsletter so that it is fresh in your minds.

1. Symptoms of influenza are:  fever, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, and cough. Sometimes nausea and vomiting.  It hits with no warning. You suddenly feel like you did major battle with a Mack truck. And lost.

2. Symptoms generally last 3-5 days, with the first 2 being the worst. Some people get a second bump of symptoms, usually not as severe, just when they think they are doing better.

3. Most people get better on their own and need nothing but rest, fluids, some more rest, and some more fluids. Maybe throw in some cough syrup, fever reducers (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), and a soothing bath.

4. Occasionally a person will need medical care.  You should call for advice if you are:

Sick longer than 3-5 days; Sick, then better, then a lot worse; Unable to keep down ANY fluids and you are feeling dehydrated, weak, dizzy; Diabetic, asthmatic, or have any other chronic illness that may make you more susceptible to infection.

5. Otherwise, you should STAY HOME!!! Do not return to campus until you have had a normal temperature for at least 24 hours. Do NOT risk exposing others, who may have risk factors for severe illness, to your bug. This is direct advice from the CDC. One of our most effective devices to prevent epidemics of influenza is the easiest. To this end, the Health Clinic has adopted the following stance:

 We will NOT see you in the office just to substantiate illness and give you a note for your instructor to say you were sick. This is irresponsible and a recipe for a public health disaster. You are an adult and can notify your instructors yourself. If they request a note, refer them to this newsletter or have them call or email me. I am more than happy to educate our local community on appropriate utilization of resources and containment of disease.

 We encourage you to call the office, 541-463-5665, if you feel you need medical advice or care. Our office staff is well versed in triaging those of you who need an appointment, and will get you in to see one of us as soon as feasible, or refer you to emergency services if it sounds like this is necessary. But PLEASE CALL—do NOT come in to ask these questions. Again, avoid exposure as much as is possible.

6. If you "forgot" to get your flu shot, I strongly advise you to look around for one.  We have dispensed all of our allotted supply and then some. A number of local pharmacies are still offering them though. This bug is much better prevented than experienced.

For further reference, please visit these web sites:

www.cdc.gov/flu/freeresources/media.htm

www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/pdf/seasonal-flu/flu_and_you_english_508.pdf