Got the Flu? Stay Home

Updated: 01/10/2014 11:28 AM
Created: 01/10/2014 10:56 AM
By: Brittany Falkers

This year's flu season is widespread across much of the county, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just last week the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) declared the flu to be widespread in the state.

Dr. Andrew Thompson is an infection disease physician at St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. He says it may be too early to tell if this year's flu season will be worse than others here in the Northland, but St. Luke's is asking those with the illness to stay home.

"Stay home. Avoid contact with other people as much as you can to keep from spreading your illness to others," Thompson said.

St. Luke's hasn't changed any policies. They always ask that anyone who is ill with a fever or respirator illness not visit patients in the hospital. However, with the flu season entering full force it's becoming more important to prevent the spread.

Most people are sick with the flu for three to five days and get better on their own, according to MDH. People without high-risk conditions who aren't very sick don't necessarily need medical help.

There are things you can do to help fight off the flu and prevent the spread. For those who are not at high risk, Dr. Thompson suggest you should stay home. Rest and drink lots of fluids. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Wash hands often. Take medications to reduce fever if necessary and call you health care provider if you or a family member has a symptom you are concerned about, such as a very high fever, according to MDH.

Extra rest and fluids may work for most, but there are many people who are at high-risk of getting very ill from the flu. Dr. Thompson says those people should call their health care providers as soon as flu symptoms develop.

How do you know if you're high-risk? If you are part of any of these groups, you may be vulnerable to sever illness from the flu:

  • Pregnant or women who delivered within the last two weeks
  • Children under two-years-old
  • People with neurologic or neuromuscular disorder
  • People with asthma or chronic lung disease, such as COPD or cystic fibrosis
  • Those with heart disease (except high blood pressure)
  • People with liver or kidney disease
  • A blood disorder (such as sickle cell disease)
  • Metabolic or endocrine disorders (such as diabetes)
  • Severely obese
  • Weakened immune system due to disease or medications (including HIV/AIDS, cancer chemotherapy, long term steroids, or anti-rejection drugs for transplants)
  • People 65 and older
  • Is American Indian and Alaska Native

Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed, according to MDH.

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