FLU CONTINUED ...



Nancy Gibson, infection prevention specialist at Jameson Health System, said flu and related respiratory diseases have run their course at the hospital.

“We saw a smattering of cases in January and things peaked in February as they usually do,” she said. “Now that we’re into March, we’re starting to see numbers dwindling off.”

The hospital has seen everything from seriously ill individuals who required a ventilator and were transferred to Pittsburgh to those with pneumonia-like symptoms who were admitted to the hospital to people treated in the emergency room and discharged.

“We’ve seen a lot of people with respiratory illness come through,” she said, “But you don’t know for sure that you’re seeing flu unless you test for it.”

Since January, she said, eight people tested positive for Influenza A and three tested positive for Influenza B

The two Lawrence County residents who died — one man and one woman, both in their 50s, — actually died in Allegheny County, she said.

She noted antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu, work best in the first 48 hours after contamination.

“Generally, by the time someone decided they are sick enough to seek treatment, they have been sick for a few days and the drugs will not be that effective.”

Gibson said people with flu need supportive care, rest, fluids and the time to recuperate.

She added that this year, the hospital experienced an increase in admissions, but not to the degree of some years.

“We did not even restrict visitors this year.”

Gibson said hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions restrict visitation “very sparingly. It is difficult to enforce and hospitalized patients benefit from family visits.”

Some nursing homes ask that ill people refrain from visiting.

“They have a high-risk population,” she said. “They get immunizations but many have compromised immune systems and may not respond well to infections.”

She advises anyone who becomes ill to use common sense, to stay home until they feel better, and to wash their hands as a means of prevention.

“With true flu you don’t bounce back after one or two days,” she said. “You can be miserable for some time.”


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