This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
Since H1N1 flu was identified in 2009, it has surfaced as the primary strain of flu each winter. Western Nevada has been no exception to this trend. The flu has returned, and Carson City Health and Human Services’ epidemiologists are seeing higher-than-usual numbers for this time of year.
“We saw an uptick in cases at the end of December, and the numbers have continued to climb. This flu season is hitting earlier than usual,” said epidemiologist Dustin Boothe.
While it is important to seek medical care if you need it, local health authorities are asking that those who do not need urgent medical care stay home. Sick people congregating at clinics or other public places helps spread the virus that causes the flu. Health authorities encourage people to take the following steps to prevent the spread of flu:
• Sneeze or cough into a tissue or your sleeve so that you do not spread germs. Throw tissues in the trash after use.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If no soap and water is available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
• Try to avoid sick people. Stay home if you get sick. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
Roni Galas, clinical services manager for Carson City Health and Human Services, reminds people that the flu vaccine is still available at both the Long Street and Gardnerville clinic locations.
“I highly recommend everyone aged 6 months and over get a flu vaccine. The vaccine is a good match for this year’s flu,” she says. The clinic accepts Medicare and many types of insurance, and for those who are not insured, the cost is $20 for the regular vaccine and $35 for the high-dose vaccine for those 65 and over. The vaccine is available on Thursdays on a walk-in basis, or by appointment.
The clinic is for those who are well but wish to be vaccinated. People who are ill should not come to the Health Department, but should instead contact their health care provider or urgent care.
Carson City Health and Human Services has a community-outreach program to provide flu vaccination to special groups that cannot make it to the Health Department to be vaccinated. For more information about this service, contact Karen Allen at 775-283-7905.
For information on the flu, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page atcdc.gov/flu.