Flu bug bites early

Published 12:43 pm Monday, October 29, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
Ten cases of influenza have already been confirmed in Atmore according to ACH Family Physicians co-medical director Jonah McIntyre, M.D.
McIntyre said having this many cases of the flu this early in the flu season is uncommon.
"Last year we had a sprinkling of cases at the very beginning of the season, but it wasn't as many as we're having now," he said. "Then it tapered off and it came back. There were several peeks throughout the season last year. We've had more cases this year than we had last year this early."
According to McIntyre, formerly of Physicians Associates, there were only two or three early cases in Atmore last year.
"We had a lighter year last year compared to the year previous," he said.
McIntyre said the Influenza A is the current strand of flu making its way through households in Atmore.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza usually starts suddenly and may include the following symptoms: fever (usually high), headache, tiredness (can be extreme), cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches and diarrhea and vomiting (more common among children than adults)
The CDC also said having the above symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu. Many different illnesses, including the common cold, can have similar symptoms.
McIntyre said there have been a few cases of Influenza B, but said the most common in Atmore so far this season has been Influenza A.
"Certain medicines work on A and B and some medicine just work on B," McIntyre said. "So if you give the patient the medicine that works on just B and they have A, it's not going to work. So we can't use a lot of the older flu medicines because most cases we've been seeing are A."
McIntyre said the most recent cases of the flu have been confirmed in young and old alike.
"It spreads within families," he said.
Depending on how severe a patient has the flu determines how it is treated.
"We have a screen where we can do a nasal swab and run tests and tell if they have influenza, not just the run-of-the-mill virus," McIntyre said. "If they are within 48 hours of onset symptoms, they qualify for Tamiflu(r). You then treat that for five days in hopes of decreasing the duration of the illness by one to two days. But more importantly you treat the close contacts like family members with a prophylactic dose of Tamiflu(r) to prevent them from getting it if they have not been vaccinated with the flu vaccine. And then you treat them symptomatically with plenty of fluids, Motrin(tm), plenty of rest and not going to work."
Below are 12 tips to prevent catching or spreading the flu according to WebMD: wash your hands, don't cover your sneezes and coughs with your hand, don't touch your face, drink plenty of fluids, take a sauna, get fresh air, do aerobic exercise regularly, eat foods containing phytochemicals (vitamins), eat yogurt, don't smoke, cut alcohol consumption and relax.

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