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OMC encourages everyone to help prevent spreading of flu - West Plains Daily Quill

January 12, 2018

This article was originally published on this site

Influenza cases continued to climb in Howell County for the week ending Jan. 6 and Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) is encouraging everyone to be involved in the prevention of transmitting the flu and other influenza-like illnesses.

Annual flu vaccination is the most important way to prevent seasonal influenza infection, said hospital officials. Although the flu vaccine may not prevent all types of the flu, evidence shows vaccinated people are at significantly lower risk of requiring hospitalization or developing serious complications including death from the flu.

“Unfortunately you can actually spread the virus before you even feel sick,” said Torrance Hughes, RN, certified in infection control and OMC infection prevention coordinator.

Hughes said the best ways to prevent spreading the flu are:

Practice good respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette. Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or hand or with a tissue – be sure to throw the tissue away to prevent contaminating surfaces – and always wash your hands after covering your cough.

Wash hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Make a special point to clean your hands before touching eyes, nose or mouth or before eating or smoking.

Stay home if you have a fever, even if you don’t yet have other symptoms. Fever is often the first symptom of the flu, so if you take that cue and stay home, you will be less likely to infect others.

“Typically, influenza activity peaks in February and continues through April, so it is not too late to get a flu shot,” said Hughes. “Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum; persons 65 years old and older; and persons with chronic diseases such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, diseases that suppress the immune system, certain other chronic medical conditions and mobid obesity are at highest risk from the flu and should especially consider being vaccinated.”

OMC is offering masks and hygiene stations available for persons visiting the hospital or its clinics. Patients seeking medical care with influenza symptoms, including cough, runny nose, or fever, will be asked to wear a mask while on the premises.

Every person hospitalized at OMC over the age of 6 months is offered a flu vaccine. OMC Primary Care Clinics in Alton, Gainesville, Mammoth Spring, Mtn. Grove, Mtn. View, Thayer, West Plains and Winona still have flu vaccines available. The Howell County Health Department also still has flu vaccine available at no cost. Call 256-7078 for more details.

For more information, please contact Torrance Hughes, RN, CIC, OMC Infection Prevention Coordinator at 257-6782, extension 6153.

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