H1N1 flu strain aggressive among young and middle-aged adults
EL PASO — The El Paso Department of Public Health reported Wednesday a middle-aged man who had the flu has died but they're still unsure if he had any other medical issues.
But because of the widespread virus, they advise people get vaccinated to prevent any further complications.
"With preventative measures likes immunizations or treatment the community will be good," said Department of Public Health Lead Epidemiologist Fernando Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said most of the flu cases are related to the H1N1 Type-A virus, the same strain that a middle-aged man contracted in El Paso before he died.
Gonzalez said there's been about a thousand cases of the flu since the season started in October.
This time last year the department reported 2800 cases, but the big difference is this season the cases are much more severe.
"It is aggressive in young and middle-aged adults," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said the symptoms will be very similar to a common cold or flu such as runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and possibly fever.
Doctor Linda Velasquez at Presidio Pediatrics said those symptoms will be very obvious.
Velasquez typically treats children and said she hasn't seen too many cases of this particular strain in kids.
But she does advise parents to get a flu shot if they have babies and infants at home.
"Particularly kids under six months or newborns," she said. "Bring your newborn from the hospital and mother needs to get a flu shot."
Velasquez said since infants cannot receive the flu shot, it's vitally important to protect them by protecting yourself.
But for those who are of age for immunizations the Department of Health said it's never too late for a shot.
Department of Health officials are asking residents to practice the “4 C’s”, simple recommendations that have proven to be effective in preventing the spread of the flu virus.
CLEAN-Wash your hands often. Scrub your hands for at least 30 seconds with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
COVER-Cover your cough. Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Don’t have a tissue? The crook of your elbow will do.
CONTAIN-Contain germs by steering clear of others who are sick. If you do get sick, stay home until you’re well again, so you don’t spread more germs.
CALL-Call or see your doctor if you or your child has a fever of greater than 100 degrees.
In addition to this advice, the Department’s Immunization Program is also offering flu vaccines to children ages six months to 18-years-old who do not have health insurance and who meet eligibility requirements. The cost is $10.00. The Department stocks only a limited amount of adult vaccines and the cost is $25.00-$35.00. Clients are urged to contact the clinic of their choice to verify availability of both the children’s and adult vaccines prior to their visit. Residents may also consult with their primary care provider or a local retail outlet of their choice in order to obtain the adult vaccine.
For more information on preventing the flu visit: www.EPHealth.com and click on the flu prevention page.