Public Health Emerging Issues – February 7, 2020

INFLUENZA INCREASE IN MESA COUNTY MORE OF A THREAT THAN CORONAVIRUS

  • Headlines have dominated about a novel strain of coronavirus spreading globally, and Mesa County Public Health is ready to respond should there be a case here. 
  • While there have been 0 cases of this novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in Mesa County, 48 people have been hospitalized so far this season with another respiratory virus, influenza.
  • Hospitalizations due to influenza are relatively low in Mesa County, but a recent spike is noteworthy:
    • For the week ending Feb. 1, the hospitalization rate was 5.2/100,000 (this means that there were five hospitalizations due to flu for every 100,000 people); this rate is higher than at the same time last year and also higher than the same time during the severe 2017-2018 flu season.
  • The influenza-like illness meter has moved into the medium category for the first time this season. The meter displays the extent to which flu and flu-like illness are reasons patients are visiting the doctor in Mesa County.
  • Mesa County Public Health is receiving reports of flu-like illness impacting attendance at a few local schools and at least one child care facility.

What is Influenza?

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It is also known as the “flu”. “Stomach flu” is not influenza.  People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. The flu viruses spread mainly when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk and their droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Touching infected surfaces and then touching your own mouth and nose may also lead to illness transmission.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Headache

What Mesa County Public Health is doing

  • We have ensured that all schools and child cares that have reported increased illness are following proper environmental cleaning procedures and are excluding ill children from school.
    • Surface cleaning is easier for influenza than norovirus, as most cleaners sold at stores are effective against flu. Still, we recommend you check the label; and to make your own, use a concentration of one cup bleach per one gallon of water.
  • All affected facilities have sent out letters to parents giving proper guidelines for flu and letting parents know to keep their children home for at least 24 hours after symptoms resolve.
  • Facilities currently seeing increased levels of absenteeism will be providing regular updates until these levels return to normal.
  • We are continuing to monitor illness in local schools, child care facilities, and area businesses and we are closely monitoring flu hospitalizations, clinic visits, and lab testing.
  • Our clinic has flu vaccine, including high-dose for those over the age of 65, and continues to see patients on a walk-in and appointment basis. We work with patients regardless of ability to pay.

What our community can do

  • People who are worried about any respiratory virus, like the flu, can protect themselves by practicing everyday prevention measures:
    • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after symptoms end.
    • Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.
    • Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms.
    • Disinfect high-touch surfaces using an appropriate disinfectant.
    • Get a flu shot -no it’s not too late- but it does take two weeks to be fully effective.  The flu shot is your best protection against severe outcomes of the flu.
      • The Mesa County Public Health Clinic, located at 510 29 ½ Road has flu vaccine available. Walk-ins are welcome. No appointment needed. 

Stay up-to-date on flu activity by visiting our flu page.

MCPH Flu-View

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