By Gilda Morales, ANP, DC
Today’s topic deals with an illness that is seeing an alarming uptick in Texas—Type A Flu. Although there are many more cases being reported in central Texas, Van Horn and Sierra Blanca are also seeing quite a few cases, mainly in school-aged children, although some patients in their 50’s have also been reported. Karla Morrow, FNP, formerly of Van Horn, stated that she had reported more than 100 cases in the Corsicana area. Currently, about 20 cases have been seen here in the Van Horn Rural Health Clinic and Culberson Hospital.
Influenza is a virus that is spread by droplets or contact with respiratory secretions and has an incubation period of 1 to 4 days, during which time patients are the most contagious. Using a hand sanitizer is imperative to prevent spread of the disease and should be used generously when around crowded environments like schools, jails, or nursing homes.
The symptoms of “flu” include a fever of 99.9 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, usually presenting within 3 days of the onset of the illness. There is also loss of appetite, chills, sweats, malaise, body aches, headache, sore throat, nonproductive cough and nasal congestion. Since these symptoms are similar to many other upper respiratory illnesses, diagnosis can only be made by an influenza swab test, which provides results within 15 minutes.
Treatment for the flu is generally symptomatic, that is, treating the symptoms. Use of saline nasal spray, analgesic gargle, Tylenol or Motrin for fever and body aches, a humidifier to increase moisture, and droplet precautions for 5 days, which is the contagious period. Antivirals, like Tamiflu may be beneficial if taken within 48 hours of onset of symptoms.