Kodiak Daily Mirror - Flu numbers higher than normal for Alaska
  
Flu numbers higher than normal for Alaska
by Peter J Mladineo
Jun 18, 2014 | 60 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Alaska Division of Public Health said Tuesday that the influenza virus is on the move in the state at the moment.

It may not have hit Kodiak, but still should serve as a fair warning to anyone in the state because the virus can travel far during high-season tourism months.

“This year the reason that we put out the advisory is to alert healthcare providers that we’re seeing flu activity at a time when we don’t usually see as much flu activity,” Dr. Michael Cooper, infectious disease program manager with ADPH told the Mirror.

“So, ‘think flu’ to the providers. There is scattered activity throughout Alaska and it’s a little more than you would expect for this time of year,” he added.

He also said, “There is cruise ship flu activity around every year.”

Since Kodiak has more than a half-dozen cruise ship visits left for the season, more viruses could be getting imported.

ADPH put out an advisory saying that the current round of vaccines would be good for another two weeks.

“Two short weeks remain before this vaccine expires, so use it or lose it,” the advisory said.

Anyone who suspects influenza and is within 48 hours of symptom onset should consider getting treated with antivirals regardless of rapid influenza test results.

“A negative result cannot be used to exclude flu diagnosis,” the advisory added.

Ginger Houghton, Providence Hopsital spokesperson, reports that the hospital was “not seeing” increased influenza numbers.

But Cooper warns that it’s difficult for hospitals to track actual numbers of flu or virus outbreaks.

“Although we have seen any confirmed recent flu activity on Kodiak it certainly does not mean that there is not flu circulating there and that providers should also keep it on their lists for possibilities when patients with compatible symptoms,” he said.

“First of all we don’t have any reliable way of knowing of where flu is with any precision. It’s not a reportable condition, like any case of flu. We what we find about are unusual clusters, outbreaks, deaths associated with the flu, or if people happen to call us if they see anything different like a super sick person,” Cooper added.

Contact PETER J. MLADINEO at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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