Flu bug hits Vermillion, patients need rest

Flu bug hits Vermillion, patients need rest by M. Jill Sundstrom Flu bug got you down?

If it does, the best way to fight the virus is let it keep you down for a few days.

�I recommend lots of rest,� said Dr. Chris Hugo of Sioux Valley Vermillion Campus. �It�s better to stay at home so that you don�t spread the virus or allow your own illness to become chronic.�

Vermillion residents of all ages have been flocking to area clinics as the flu season continues.

�We can hardly keep enough of the Type A screening test in stock because we�re seeing so many patients,� said Vermillion Medical Clinic Manager Deb Winchip.

�The patient numbers were very heavy last week,� added Linda Thaden, a nurse at VMC. �In the last 10 days to two weeks, three-fourths of our patients are coming in with flu-like symptoms.

�It�s not being kind to anyone,� she continued. �We�re seeing patients of all ages, across the board. The ones who are having the worst time of it are the babies and people who either can�t stay home or won�t because they have to work. They don�t get better very fast if they are too quick to get back to their routine. It takes at least a week to heal or the symptoms keep hanging on.�

Influenza viruses are highly contagious, according to the South Dakota Department of Health. Symptoms can occur from one to ten days after exposure and include chills, fever, headaches, body aches, a dry cough, nasal congestion and extreme fatigue.

Aspirin (for adults), Tylenol or ibuprophen will handle the fever and aches, while lots of fluids and rest are also recommended by area medical personnel.

�Normally see the most flu cases in the elderly and children,� Dr. Hugo said. �But this is hitting the whole spectrum. I saw someone the other day who had never been to the doctor in his life except for the day he was born, and he was nearly on his hands and knees.

�When it hits normally healthy people then you know it�s pretty bad,� he continued. �Even people who have had flu shots are getting sick.�

Dr. Hugo added that he has admitted several patients with severe symptoms to the hospital.

�Is it an epidemic? That�s usually reserved as a definition for an area that has become paralyzed by the presence of the disease,� Dr. Hugo said. �That�s not the case here, but it is pretty wide spread and has been running rampant through most South Dakota counties.�

As of Feb. 8, 19 South Dakota counties had reported 219 cases of Type A influenza, while 80 confirmed cases of Type B in 23 counties had been reported to the South Dakota Department of Health.

�Clay County has reported both A and B,� said Barb Buhler, information officer for the department.

Buhler added, however, that the numbers reported by the state health department do not accurately reflect how many cases there actually are, because not everyone goes to the doctor.

Student Health Service at The University of South Dakota is a South Dakota Department of Health flu surveillance site, according to Larry Hudson, director.

�We send in test samples to the department so that they can see where the flu is hitting and to what degree,� he said.

In recent days, the patient numbers at Student Health Service are �way up,� Hudson said. �We encourage the students to stay home and rest, and normally that�s a hard group to sell that idea to. With the symptoms their having, however, they aren�t having too much trouble heeding the doctor�s advice.�

Carol Broderson, school nurse for the Vermillion School District, is also seeing children with flu-like symptoms. Teachers and staff are experiencing the illness as well.

�The numbers are pretty standard,� she said. �We�ve had a lot of absences, but I wouldn�t say it�s more than normal.�

Superintendent Bob Mayer is keeping an eye on the situation, but agrees with Broderson that the number of students sick with the flu is �nothing extraordinary,� he said.

�We will continue to observe the situation and consider cancelling classes if we hear from the doctors that the numbers are increasing and it looks like epidemic proportions,� Mayer continued. �As for now, we�ll continue classes as normal and hope the bug passes.�

In the meantime, prevention is the key.

�We are always telling people hand wash, hand wash hand wash,� Thaden said. �And cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Stay home if you do get sick. Isolate yourself so that you don�t give it to others.�

�We can�t make people stay home, but if they are sick enough to come to the doctor, they realize that it�s best to stay home and recuperate,� added Peg Swick, office manager at the Olson Medical Clinic.

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