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Health & Community Services News

Posted on: November 30, 2022

Hot Topic 62: Influenza Treatments

Health Hot Topic

SAN JUAN COUNTY, WA. November 30, 2022 – With influenza spreading rapidly throughout Washington and our own community, it is important to be aware of treatment options.

Rates of influenza in our community and throughout Washington state are very high, with new infections developing daily. Flu shots are still available and still effective at preventing influenza this time of year. As with many other respiratory illnesses, if you do find yourself ill with influenza, it is recommended that symptoms are treated with lots of rest, adequate hydration, and monitoring for signs of worsening symptoms and respiratory distress. The standard for medication therapy is what is available over the counter at your local pharmacy to help control cough and fever. There are antiviral medications available, but it is important to note that they are only recommended for people who are hospitalized, people who have severe and progressive symptoms, and people who are at high risk of developing complications from influenza infection.

Those who are at high risk of developing complications from influenza infection are broadly defined as:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 5 years old (particularly those younger than 2 years old)
  • People with asthma
  • People with blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)
  • People with chronic lung disease (such as COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and cystic fibrosis)
  • People with endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus)
  • People with heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure, and coronary artery disease)
  • People with kidney or liver disease
  • People with metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • People who are obese with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
  • People younger than 19 years old on long-term aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications
  • People who are immunocompromised
  • People who have had a stroke
  • Pregnant people and people up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People from certain racial and ethnic minority groups are at increased risk for hospitalization with influenza, including non-Hispanic Black persons, Hispanic or Lantinx persons, and American Indian or Alaska Native persons

If you fall into one of these categories, Tamiflu (which is a prescription antiviral medication that works against the influenza virus) may be indicated—but it may not be. Tamiflu is not without risk and does require evaluation by a medical professional. It is best started within 48-hours of symptom onset. After reviewing the list above, if you feel that you may be a candidate for Tamiflu, please reach out to your primary care clinic to discuss testing for influenza and possible treatment. Currently, stock of Tamiflu is limited in San Juan County.

For more information about preventing the spread of flu, visit knockoutflu.org. Everyone six months and older should be vaccinated for influenza and COVID-19 to lower the risk of transmission and serious illness. Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be safely administered at the same time.

Relevant URLs:

Media Contact:

Jessica Nye, Community Health Services Manager, jessican@sanjuanco.com, 360-774-9350

About San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services    

San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services is responsible for community and environmental health, mental health and substance abuse programs, senior services, affordable housing projects, and more. The department has staff and offices on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands. For more information about San Juan County’s Department of Health and Community Services, visit www.sanjuanco.com/1777/Health-Community-Services.

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