Waiting rooms at urgent care units around the region have been filled with patients displaying symptoms of this year’s strain of the flu bug.
Not since the feared H1N1 influenza has the state seen such a sharp increase in illnesses attributed to this year’s bug.
Minnesota’s Department of Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) have gone on record stating “...this has the potential to be severe.” CDC issued a statement in early December that warned of a potentially severe flu season.
Well, that seems to be the case in the Brainerd lakes area as well. One patient stricken with flu-like symptoms over the holidays said the urgent care facility in Baxter was inundated by people with brochial inflammation, chills, fevers and head congestion.
Back in August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said, “Based on information and three recommendations of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, the strains selected for inclusion in the 2012-13 flue vaccines are: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus; A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus; and B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus.
How does one avoid getting this year’s strain of the flu (other than totally isolating one’s self from the rest of the world)?
“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”
Each year between 5 and 20 percent of the country develops influenza. Apparently, the lakes area is being bombarded with this strain of flu in unusually high numbers.
What’s the answer? Wash one’s hands often, use tissues to cover sneezing, get plenty of rest and hope one does not become a patient at the Baxter urgent care.