Flu season has arrived in Oregon with the Center for Disease Control reporting widespread outbreaks of influenza in the state.
The Oregon Health Authority reports there have been 179 hospitalizations for the flu in the state, with 84 percent of them among those younger than 65.
Officials say this is because H1N1 is the prevalent strain this year, to which people younger than 65 typically do not have any immunity. It is thought that H1N1 was dormant for many decades, last seen before 2009 in the 1950s. In 2009 the H1N1 flu reached pandemic levels worldwide.
Reports of flu like illnesses are also higher earlier this year than in years past. Dr. Ann Thomas, public health physician with the Oregon Public Health Division, said she wouldn’t be surprised if the rates of infection were higher in the coming weeks.
Health officials recommend that those who haven’t already been vaccinated for the flu do so. Curry County has the lowest rate of flu vaccinations in the state with only 18 percent of the county vaccinated. People should contact their physician about receiving a flu shot, as vaccination is the best prevention from the flu.
Marie Fabrizio, a registered nurse and infection preventionist at Curry General Hospital, said there have been no hospitalizations because of the flu at Curry General, but that in the last week there has been one confirmed case of H1N1 in Brookings and several people with flu-like symptoms in Brookings.
Those who suspect they have the flu should stay away from other people, wash their hands regularly, cover their cough and stay home. Fabrizio said those with a fever and other flu like symptoms could see their doctor who may be able to give them antiviral drugs to lessen the effects of the virus and improve recovery time.