By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
It seems as though the flu is making its return, however it never really left nor has the trend been much different than in years past. James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department provided a chart that showcased the trend of flu like illnesses being seen at a medical facility, explaining, “As you will see the pattern is similar to past seasons with our peak being around this time each year.”
Solena Roberts, Physicians Assistant with the St. George Medical Center, was asked why it may have seemed the flu hit people hard, tapered off and then reappeared. She responded, “There are several types of the influenza virus, most notably types A and B, which are the ones we tend to focus on. Of these types, there are often several active strains going around. The dominant strain can vary by region as well as age group. So anytime we travel or someone visits our area, we are potentially exposed to a new strain and then a new wave of influenza cases. Once you get type A, you won’t get it again this year, but can still get type B. It’s even possible to have both A and B at the same time.”
Roberts further explained. “There are really 4 types of influenza viruses: A, B, C and D. Only types A and B cause seasonal epidemics. Influenza A strains can infect (and be spread by) animals, particularly birds. Influenza B, generally infects only humans and tends to be less common than influenza A.”
When asked for an estimate of how many patients have been coming into the clinic with flu like symptoms, Roberts stated, “It’s variable from one week to the next. Between the 2 sites, we are seeing as many as 10 positive tests per day and several more “flu-like illnesses”. This week seems to be slower than last. But that doesn’t mean flu season is coming to an end. There could be another wave anytime!”
Mountain Top Health Care, Secretary Jennifer Rosier, confirmed they have seen a minimum of one per day with approximately half being diagnosed with type A and half with type B. “We’ve seen it in all ages,” she recalled. Rosier also noted that sometimes, in the early stages of the flu, the test will produce a false negative. She stated paying attention to your temperature would help determine when to seek medical attention. “It doesn’t even have to be a high fever, but a continuous, low grade fever.”
Pharmacy Technician Cheyenne Lawrence with Community Care was asked if they have noticed an increase in prescriptions being submitted for the flu. “Yes it’s definitely been a steady stream,” stated Lawrence. She has not noticed any specific age group being targeted, but feels the diagnosis have never let up this season filling several prescriptions per day.
Preston Taylor Pharmacy II, Pharmacist Kristen White, noticed a slightly different trend where they fill prescriptions seen by providers of the Mountain Top Health Care Center. She noted an early wave of diagnosis, followed by a steady trickle with another wave hitting again within the last month. Walgreens, in Parsons, was also contacted for feedback; however information could not be received in time prior to publication.
Snyder also provided a link to a flu facts sheet that would help educate the public with questions pertaining to the flu, preventative measures, and more. That information can be found at https://oeps.wv.gov/toolkits/documents/flu/Flu-Fact-Sheet.pdf. He also referenced the CDC (Center for Disease Control) guidelines for flu prevention including obtaining the annual flu vaccine, avoid close contact, staying home when sick, covering your mouth and nose, effective hand washing, refraining from touching your mouth and nose, and practice overall healthy habits. Snyder also added, “Locally we are seeing multiple colds, viruses, strep, and flu. The above recommendations will help reduce the risk of all of these.”