Santa Fe, NM — The New Mexico Department of Health reported today that hospital rates among those aged 18-64 years are higher this flu season compared to last season.
“This influenza season we are seeing more hospitalizations in young and middle aged adults than normal,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “With flu activity continuing throughout New Mexico, it is important to get vaccinated.”
Last year during the 2012-2013 flu season for the week ending January 11, hospitalization rates for lab-confirmed flu cases in 18-49 year old adults was 6.0 per 100,000 population. This season that rate is higher (7.2 per 100,000). Those aged 50-64 years old also are experiencing a higher hospitalization rate this season, 4.8 per 100,000 compared to 3.0 per 100,000 last year. These rates indicate a greater severity of flu illness in these age groups. The CDC is also reporting more severe illness resulting in hospital or death in young and middle aged adults throughout the United States this season compared to last season.
The best way to protect yourself against flu is to get vaccinated. If you do become sick, there are drugs that can be used to treat the flu. These drugs may lessen symptoms and may shorten the time you are sick. They also may prevent hospitalizations and flu complications, such as pneumonia and death. If you think you have the flu, your doctor can determine if you should receive antiviral drugs. These drugs work best if started within two days of being sick but may help even if not received right away.
The Department of Health will continue to monitor influenza-like illnesses (fever with cough or sore throat) during the flu season through 29 health care providers that report weekly. Providers that participate in this surveillance network reported that at the end of the second week of January reported that ILI was slightly lower than the previous week. Last week the Department of Health reported a death in a 76-year-old woman from Santa Fe County.
Influenza is a highly transmittable disease whose symptoms include sudden onset of fever, muscle pain, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (more common in children than adults.) These symptoms develop within a few days after exposure to the flu virus.
Influenza vaccination is recommended for:
- All people over 6 months of age who are eligible for vaccination and especially;
- Pregnant (any trimester) and post-partum women
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease
- People who don’t have a normal immune system
- People who live in nursing homes and other long‐term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who are morbidly obese
- Healthcare personnel
- People at high risk for serious flu complications, including children younger than 5 years and adults older than 65 years
The Department offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get immunized. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who come to Public Health Offices are asked to present their insurance card.
To find out more about flu vaccination clinics throughout New Mexico, you can call the Immunization Hotline toll free at (866) 681‐5872.
For more information about influenza, visit the Department’s website: http://nmhealth.org/flu/index.shtml