Influenza cases declining since DecemberPublished 12:21pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Health officials across the state and nation are seeing higher than usual levels of influenza. Alabama Department of Public Health reported last Friday that reports of influenza-like illness have been above baseline for seven consecutive weeks.
Misty Anderson, director of education, safety and accreditation for Russell Medical Center, said that flu levels are still under control here in Tallapoosa County and throughout the state.
“(ADPH) is not calling it a pandemic – it is still very manageable in the state of Alabama,” Anderson said. “Dr. Williamson (state health officer) expressed that we are able to handle the current volumes – the volumes are high but not beyond capabilities.”
Anderson said the worst of the flu season so far happened over the holidays.
“We started doing surveillance back in November,” Anderson said. “We saw a spike and levels increase in December. Christmas and New Years were our highest weeks.”
For the month of December, 25 percent of all influenza tests that RMC sent for analysis tested positive for flu. Anderson said these numbers appear to be on the decline.
“In January so far, only 10 percent of influenza tests sent to the lab have tested positive,” Anderson said.
RMC is taking measures to keep the flu from becoming a larger problem, Anderson said. Respiratory kiosks – complete with protective facemasks, hand sanitizer and tissue – are spread at five different locations throughout the campus. These kiosks are free for all to use.
Although it appears that flu levels are on the decline, Anderson said it is still not too late to get a flu shot.
“It takes two weeks after getting the flu vaccines to get protection, but flu season typically lasts through March,” Anderson said. “Go ahead and get it – it is never too late. We may see this level off and go down, but we might see a spike.”
ADPH reminded all citizens to take basic infection control measures to help prevent spread of flu. These include covering the mouth or nose with a tissue or cloth when coughing or sneezing, washing hands frequently and staying home when you are sick.