Updated: January 13, 2020 08:26 AM
Created: January 13, 2020 08:16 AM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Presbyterian hospitals are seeing an increase in influenza-related illnesses. However, it’s not just an uptick for Albuquerque.
"Nationally, flu or influenza-like illness presentations are currently at about 6.9%. And New Mexico is at 11.7%," said Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harman, director of infection control at Presbyterian. "That is a dramatic difference.”
He said the difference is hitting Presbyterian hard.
"We're seeing our emergency departments, our urgent cares being inundated by patients with influenza-like illnesses,” he said.
Dr. Salvon-Harman said the cases are coming in sooner than usual for the flu season.
He said there are two major subtypes of the flu virus.
“Normally, Influenza A represents 75% of all cases in influenza in any given season,” he explained. “Influenza B, as both a minority of the cases and also a late presenter, usually comes in late in the season.”
But this season he’s seeing a lot more Influenza B related cases, which our body’s immune systems aren’t used to. However, he said this is not a novel flu virus like H1N1.
"This year, the viruses that we're seeing are all covered by the vaccine. We're seeing that the vaccine is about 50% effective for those who receive it,” Dr. Salvon-Harman said.
With or without the vaccine, he stresses the importance of stopping the spread of the virus. He said it’s important to cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
The safe distance from someone who is sick is about 6-feet, since it is airborne as well.
But Dr. Salvon-Harman said the virus sticks around on any surface. That’s why he said washing your hands and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers are an extra line of defense.
"Flu is not only contagious. (It) Not only makes you feel real bad, make you miss work, or make your kids stay home from school, but in some cases it can actually be fatal,” he said.
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