COON RAPIDS, Minn. – January, the time of year when it seems just about everyone has a sniffle or cough. It’s also important to pay a little more attention to what that cold could be. Various colds and coughs do run rampant this time of the year, but one particular virus is hitting home especially hard here in Minnesota, influenza.
This seasonal infection comes and goes from year to year; however, this season the flu pandemic is particularly dangerous, claiming the lives of 60 Minnesotans so far. “It’s a tragic thing,” commented Dr. Wendy Slattery, Infectious Disease Specialist, “And we’re not sure we’ve peaked yet, but on the other hand we might be right in the middle of the peak, it could be several more weeks.”
Thus far, over 400 cases of influenza have been hospitalized in Minnesota alone. The north metro suburbs have experienced extra pressure as Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids was recently named the fourth busiest hospital in the state.
The cause of this season’s influenza outbreak is linked to a strand of bacteria labeled H3N2, a variant of influenza. The symptoms include a variety from the common cold to high fevers and body aches depending on the person.
This year, doctors are recommending online E-visits. E-visits provide a cost-effective way to seek advice from a doctor while avoiding a hospital full of sick people. However, Dr. Slattery recommended that health is not something to risk during a time such as this. “If someone can’t breath, has underlying asthma, is not urinating, or not eating, bring them in immediately,” said Slattery.
There are a few practices to use when avoiding influenza. “Stay home if you have the flu, good hand hygiene is essential, and get vaccinated,” explained Slattery.
You can read more about the flu through the Center for Disease Control.