Influenza Season Is Here, and It’s a Bear
The season 2011-2012 is shaping up to be a nasty one from coast to coast, including here in flyover land.
Although the death toll from influenza A is attributed to 2 deaths in Minnesota, the state of Massachusetts seems to be hit especially hard. Many urgent care clinics and associated areas, where I also see patients, are either running out of rapid testing modalities (the nasal swab), oral medications — or in some cases — both. Although much of the reportage on this year’s epidemic is rightfully appropriate in conveying the particular seriousness of the outbreak, much of the panic seems to be on the side of policymakers.
For the most part, hospitals and ambulatory clinics seem to be handling the increased numbers of those affected by both influenza A and ILI (influenza like illnesses); the good news is that this years vaccination seems to be a pretty good match for the virus that causes the flu. Although it doesn’t confer complete protection, it lowers the possibly of contracting it greatly — something that I, as a healthcare provider — am very grateful for.
The media narratives may be intense, but one axiom will always be true: if you have not been vaccinated, and have not yet contracted symptoms of the flu, get vaccinated. If flu-like symptoms occur rapidly, call your physician or seek medical evaluation. The influenza medications may or may not be prescribed, but at least you’ll be spotting the signs early as you take action on your part to control the spread. After all, it’s early in the flu season, and the worst may be yet to come.
Michael L. Douglas, MD, MBA is the editor and proprietor of Doctor Pundit, one of the blogosphere's leading physician blogs and healthcare policy blogs. He is a geriatrician and board-certified family physician who serves as the clinical director of long term care services at the Saint Peter (MN) Regional Treatment Center, the state's inpatient forensic psychiatric facility. Dr. Douglas is ...