Pocahontas Memorial Hospital Rural Health Clinic providers have seen dozens of confirmed flu cases over the last several days and Dr. Neal Rehberg, DO stresses the importance of all folks taking the necessary precautions to avoid the flu. Pocahontas County is not alone with its high flu numbers; according to the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health, there is widespread activity throughout the state. An epidemiologist with the Bureau said last week that this is the “earliest it’s been this bad in five years.”
It is not too late to get the flu shot this year and PMH encourages everyone to get vaccinated if you have not already. Because of the rapid mutations of this year’s flu viruses, the flu shot may not completely prevent you from getting the flu, however it will help in lessening the length and severity of illness. In addition, there are daily steps you can take to help protect your health and the health of your family. For example:
- Wash your hands often and the right way. Use soap and water for twenty seconds. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. This is how germs are spread.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Take preventative action – get lots of sleep, exercise daily, stay hydrated, and eat healthily.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- If you do get sick with a flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.
Many people mistakenly think that the flu must involve stomach nausea and vomiting, however the flu actually more closely mimics the common cold. Flu symptoms include cold chills, body aches, fever, cough, and/or sore throat. While not usually life threatening, sometimes the flu can lead to pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalization.
Dr. Rehberg cautions that health care workers and family members of health care workers are at additional risk for exposure. Anywhere that groups of people gather offer a bigger chance of obtaining and spreading the flu. Communities with large transient populations also are at risk. While Pocahontas County does not have a large population, we do have over one million visitors annually!
Call Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s Rural Health Clinic to schedule an appointment to receive a flu shot at 304-799-6200.