Flu hasn't hit Carson City, yet

What: Carson-Tahoe Hospital Flu Vaccination Clinics

When: Dec. 27 and 29, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: North end of the Carson Mall

The flu season generally extends from November to March, but has yet to hit hard in the Carson City area according to Dr. David Strull, emergency room physician at Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

"We haven't seen any true cases of influenza," Strull said, noting that emergency room physicians have seen the normal number of colds, but the classic flu symptoms including high fever, muscle aches, cough and sore throat haven't been seen yet in Carson-Tahoe's emergency room.

"Generally, when flu strikes, we know it," he said, noting that Washoe Medical Center has seen a few cases.

The National Center for Disease Control backs up that observation. For the week ending December 16, the number of cases diagnosed in Nevada and the West Coast have been characterized as sporadic.

That means some cases have been reported, but no reports of outbreaks in schools, nursing homes, or other institutional settings.

Bottom line: those who think the season is half over and it's too late to get their shots are wrong. There is still plenty of time to get flu shots and Carson-Tahoe Hospital is offering free vaccination clinics.

"The last few clinics had have been poorly attended," Diane Rush of the hospital's marketing department said. "The Public feels its too late, but it only takes two weeks after immunization for the body to build up antibodies sufficient to fight the disease."

Free clinics will be offered by the hospital again this week on Wednesay Dec. 27 and Friday, Dec. 29 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the north end of the Carson Mall.

For those who decide not to get their vaccinations, the severity of the disease can depend on a number of factors including age and underlying conditions according to Strull.

The average healthy person can be treated with Tylenol or Motrin, rest, and fluids. But secondary bacterial infections are common in the elderly with this disease, and often require antibiotic therapy.

Strull doesn't use antiviral therapy because it may shorten the course of the disease, but it's not a cure.

"In the emergency room setting (very short term) we often can't tell if it's viral or bacterial," he said, noting that with time bacterial infections usually get progressively worse, while viral infections run their course.

"We don't see a true influenza in infants," Strull said. "And we often can treat them supportively and symptomatically."


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