Just like the State of Washington which is one of 27 states nationwide reporting widespread flu activity, Klickitat County has seen the number of influenza-illness increasing over the last week or two.
"It's ramping up in our region," said Nursing Manager at Klickitat County Health Department Jane Palmer
There is increased absenteeism in at least one Goldendale school and county health care providers are also reporting more patients calling with flu like symptoms.
Palmer said, "We understand that with all the national media attention given to H1N1 influenza, many people are concerned. This new strain of flu is coming at a time when we usually don't see a lot of flu-like illness. Klickitat County has seven reported cases of Influenza A. Three of these have been confirmed to be H1N1."
The Health Department continues to stay abreast of the situation locally and within the region and state. The department is working with community groups and providers to share information about how to stay healthy and what to do if you are ill.
It should be noted that 99 percent of the isolates being typed by CDC are novel H1N1, so it's reasonable to assume that anyone with influenza now has the pandemic strain, Palmer said. In layman terms, if you have the flu, it's probably H1N1.
This pandemic strain is not more severe than seasonal flu, however the groups vulnerable to serious complications differs somewhat.
Many are questioning whether they have H1N1, the seasonal flu or a cold.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a medical reporter for CNN, recently described his symptoms of the H1N1 virus he suffered while on assignment in Afghanistan.
In his report, he said, "It started as a cough. This was the kind of cough that hurts when you do it... I woke up in my dusty desert tent and tried to step out of my sleeping bag. Two steps later, I almost hit the deck. Incoming. I was lightheaded and freezing cold -- even though it was over 100 degrees outside. We both had high fevers, the lack of appetite, terrible sinus congestion, body aches, and yes – that hacking, come out of the blue. I am not someone who gets sick, really ever. And this was the sickest I have ever been. It was a lot like...the flu -- with a different name. A lot of people will get the exact symptoms I described above, and for most people, it will simply mean a few miserable days."
Gupta reported he did need medical attention because he had become dehydrated.
Palmer noted most people who get the flu will not need medical care. Individuals should seek medical attention, however, if they:
cannot keep liquids down,
have difficulty breathing,
or, have chest pain.
Even though must people will not need medical attention, as a precaution the health department is encouraging individuals to stay at home or keep their children out of school if they have:
A fever of 100 degrees or more
A severe cough with fever
a sore throat with fever, or difficulty swallowing
Diarrhea or vomiting
H1N1 vaccine will be coming this month. The county health department will announce when the vaccine is available for those identified to be more at risk for complications from the flu. The vaccine will be accessible with the six major health providers in the county. The amount of vaccine received, however, will be based on the percentage of at-risk groups within the county.
The following groups will be encouraged to get the vaccine first:
Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 6 months of age.
Healthcare and emergency medical services personnel.
All people 6 months of age through 24 years of age.
Persons aged 25 through 64 years who have chronic health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
The Klickitat County Health Department is still encouraging people to get their regular flu shots. Seasonal flu vaccinations do not take the place of H1N1 vaccine.
Seasonal flu shots will be offered Oct. 16 and 17; 7 to 11 a.m. at the White Salmon Health Fair and Oct. 19, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Goldendale High School. Local medical providers also have seasonal flu shots.
For more information check out: www.klickitatcounty.org/health or www.doh.wa.gov