Influenza Hits Chequamegon Bay

Sarah Waby, BSN

If you didn’t already know it, Northlanders, the flu and influenza season is here. We recently started seeing an increasing numbers of patients in our ER and Urgent Care Departments at Memorial Medical Center with Influenza symptoms. We are also diagnosing increasing numbers of positive Influenza and that has resulted in several patients needing hospitalization. Due to the increased activity in our area, Memorial Medical Center is requesting family and friends to limit visitation at the hospital.

In addition, we ask that any visitors with flu symptoms such as: cough, fever, chest congestion, head-ache, to refrain from visiting if possible. If you do visit you will be asked to wear a gown and facemask and be required to wash your hands frequently to protect others. We are requesting that children not visit at this time. All visitors that are visiting patients diagnosed with Influenza are encouraged to wear gown and mask and preform frequent hand hygiene. You will also be reminded not to visit other patients while you are here. Local nursing homes are also experiencing increased respiratory illnesses in their resident population. We advise limiting visits to those residents as well during this time.

The Ashland County Health Department reports that data from the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) indicates that only 30.55% of Wisconsin residents have received the flu vaccine, leaving the majority of residents unprotected. Flu season usually lasts thru April. Of the four strains in the flu shot, one of them is only 10 percent effective, however, the other three are more than 70 effective. Bottom line, the flu shot is definitely worth getting, especially as it has proven to alter the course of the disease if you do get the flu and make it less nasty (in most cases). It is still not too late to get the flu shot and there is still ample supply locally.

Remember, there is always time to do some things to decrease your chance of getting the flu. Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, eat right, and wash your hands frequently with soap or hand sanitizer, and limit your exposure with people who are sick.

If you do get the flu, follow the above recommendations and stay home, sneeze in your elbow so you don’t continue to spread the flu to others. And we cannot stress enough – handwash, handwash, handwash! If you are diagnosed with flu there are medications such as Tamiflu that can be given early in the illness that can help lessen the flu a few days. Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms.

Please help us to decrease the flu activity in our area by working with the Bayfield and Ashland County Public Health Departments, your local Healthcare providers and the staff at Memorial Medical Center during this time of increased flu activity.

Submitted by Sarah Waby, BSN. Sarah is the infection preventionist at Memorial Medical Center.