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Community of Ruston prepares for flu season

January 15, 2015

 

MICHAEL HOGE 

Staff Reporter

 

The flu epidemic which has been hitting the nation, has not resulted in an increase of flu cases around Ruston, said local health professionals.

 

“Truthfully, I haven’t seen much of the flu around here,” said Dr. Allen Herbert, family physician at the Northern Louisiana Medical Center.

A Tech Talk student  receives  a flu shot  from a Tech nurse–Photo by Brian Blakely

A Tech Talk student receives a flu shot from a Tech nurse–Photo by Brian Blakely

 

There was not a large increase of vaccinations compared to other years, said Paige Pickett, head nurse at Louisiana Tech student health center.

 

“We have given approximately 130 flu shots this school year,” Pickett said, “This is about average for what we give per year.”

 

Tiffany Rutland, a pharmacist with Walgreens, said compared to other years, locally it has been about the same.

 

“I think it’s pretty high, but it’s about the same prescription-wise,” Rutland said.

 

Nationwide the flu has been hitting just as hard and early like the previous two years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

According to a CDC definition, the flu is an epidemic when a certain percentage of deaths in a given week are due to flu and pneumonia.

 

Flu epidemics occurred in nine of the last dozen winters, including this one.

 

Pickett said to prevent getting the flu, people should get the flu shot, wash hands and avoid close contact with sick people.

 

Herbert said if people catch the flu, treatment is systematic, according to the symptoms of flu.

 

“The most important thing is to isolate yourself from other people,” Herbert said.

 

Pickett said students who catch the flu should go home, and not risk spreading it to their classmates.

 

Students should see a doctor, get anti-viral medications, avoid close contact, stay home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone and clean any contaminated surfaces.

 

Pickett said there have been no reported cases of students being hospitalized in Ruston.

 

Flu hospitalization rates nationwide are similar to the harsh season two years ago, which was dominated by a similar flu virus.

 

Health officials this year are urging doctors to treat flu patients promptly with antiviral medications.

 

“The government decided that all of us should take a flu shot,” Herbert said. “They’re trying to promote herd immunity.”

 

He said they promote a new strain of the vaccine every year.

 

“You can cut down the chance of a big epidemic,” Herbert said.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 

Email comments to mph027@latech.edu.

 

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