An important message today from the Snohomish Health District.
Flu activity is increasing rapidly, and is expected to increase in late fall and into winter.
According to the Snohomish County Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending November 12, 2022, the percentage of hospital visits for flu-like illness is already at least four times higher than the same period in 2020 and 2021.
Of the approximately 1,200 influenza tests performed in the county, roughly 1 in 4 reported positive. This is almost double the positivity rate of the previous week. While the data for the most recent week (ending November 19) is not yet final, early indicators are that Snohomish County may be nearing 50% positivity for flu testing.
In short, flu season is here, and it’s back in full force after several seasons when disease prevention measures kept flu activity unusually low.
Meanwhile, other potentially serious respiratory viruses are also spreading. The Snohomish Health District has heard from healthcare providers as well as community partners such as schools and child care that there has been a large increase in people getting sick compared to the past few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued an advisory earlier this month, it has been observed across the country.
Respiratory syncytial virus – often referred to as RSV – is circulating at very high rates. This disease especially affects children.
COVID-19 continues to spread at a lower level than in years past, but is expected to increase this winter.
These diseases can cause serious problems and hospitalization. There are very few beds available in local hospitals at this time, especially for children.
Pharmacies, clinics and stores are also facing shortages of some medicines for children. Healthcare providers as well as parents seeking medication for a sick child may be able to obtain some high-demand options, including Tamiflu, over-the-counter cough medicine such as Robitussin and Delsym, and children’s Tylenol or ibuprofen. There is likely to be difficulty. There is also a nationwide shortage of liquid amoxicillin, a common antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections such as ear infections.
“It is essential that we as a community do our best to keep our children, our elders, our families and ourselves healthy,” said Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. James Lewis. “We know what works – get vaccinated, stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, and wear a mask in crowded indoor settings. Wearing a mask not only protects against COVID, it also protects against flu and Also protects against other respiratory viruses including RSV.
It’s still not too late to get your annual flu shot, and to make sure you’re up to date on COVID vaccinations, including your bivalent booster.
“Everyone 6 months of age or older should get vaccinated,” Lewis said. “Although vaccines do not provide 100% protection against getting sick, they greatly reduce your chances of getting sick enough to require hospitalization. These vaccinations help prevent you from transmitting flu or COVID to others if you become infected. You can reduce your risk, which helps protect your family, loved ones and the wider community.
Other ways to help:
- Avoid unnecessary in-person visits to clinics, urgent care, or emergency rooms. Use telehealth options when possible. If you have insurance, you can call a nurse line available through your insurance provider and/or your healthcare provider. Check your insurance card, online account or paperwork; Many providers list a number you can use for questions about symptoms and next steps.
- If you are experiencing a medical emergency, such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, broken bones or uncontrolled bleeding, you should seek emergency care immediately. The goal is to avoid non-emergency visits and free up capacity to meet such urgent medical needs.
- If you, your child, or anyone in your household has symptoms such as cough, sore throat, sneezing, headache, runny nose, body aches, fatigue, wheezing, difficulty breathing, or fever, they should go to work, school, and Must stay away from home. other verbs. This includes sports, babysitting, events or parties.
- Wait until the fever is gone and other symptoms are gone or better without the help of medicine for more than a full day before returning to work or other activities. If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home for at least five days after the positive test or onset of symptoms and wear a mask for at least 5 additional days after coming out of isolation.
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and cover coughs or sneezes with tissue or elbow. You can also choose to wear a mask in shared public places. Please respect and support those who have chosen to wear a mask, even if you are choosing not to.
- If you or a household member have underlying health conditions that increase your risk of serious illness, talk to your doctor early about additional preventive measures or what to do if symptoms such as a bad cough or high fever begin. Do it. High-risk individuals may require antiviral treatment to help reduce the severity of illness.
Flu information, including influenza surveillance reports, is available at www.snohd.org/flu.
Information on COVID-19 vaccinations can be found at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.