According to Castleview Chief Nursing Officer, Terri Watkins, while the level of influenza-related illness across the United States is moderately high, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has de?ned this year's incidence as an epidemic.
"You should not be alarmed," she said. "There are several things you can do to protect yourself from the flu, prevent it from spreading and speed up recovery should you contract the virus."
Following the advice of the CDC, Watkins was quick to point out that the first thing local residents need to do is to get vaccinated.
"It is not too late to get a ?u shot," she said. "This is the best available form of protection from the virus. While it is still possible to contract the ?u after receiving a vaccination, it is much less likely."
Tests conducted by the CDC in early January indicate that individuals are 62 percent less likely to contract the ?u after receiving the 20l2-20l3 vaccination. According to Watkins, the easiest way to receive a vaccination in the local area is to visit the Southeastern Utah District Health Department, a walk-in clinic or pharmacy as well as a physician's of?ce.
Other important preventative measures suggested by the CDC include:
Covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. This will block the spread of potential germs, said Watkins.
Washing hands regularly with soap and water, preferably, or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can enter the body.
Avoiding close contact with others, particularly once ?u-like symptoms are noticed.
Cleaning frequently touched objects such as doorknobs, phones and keypads.
Knowing the available plan at ones place of work or school should a widespread outbreak of the virus occur.
Following the direction of the Southeastern Utah Public Health Department. Castleview Hospital is also is taking the appropriate steps to prevent the flu from spreading.
According to Watkins, the hospital staff is doing this by:
Providing masks to all visitors and patients experiencing ?u-like symptoms.
Setting up stations throughout the facility stocked with tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizers,
Encouraging all patients, staff and visitors who have not done so already to get their ?u shot, and
Providing educational material to all visitors about everyday preventative actions.
While most health professionals agree that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, sometimes even the very careful can become infected.
"If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, please see your doctor right away," said Watkins. "Early detection is especially important for young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues. When detected early, prescription antiviral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days."
In addition, area residents are cautioned to limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms.
"Stay home, or keep your child home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone except to seek medical care or for other necessities," continued Watkins. "At Castleview Hospital, our mission is to make our community healthier. During ?u season and
year-round, we are here to respond to your healthcare needs by providing top quality care close to home. If you have any questions or concerns about this year's ?u season, our dedicated medical staff can help."