Flu Continues on Orcas, San Juan Island Parents Must Take Extra Care in Treating Their Children

San Juan County Health Department reports that the current flu season is the latest the flu has occured in decades.

Three regions in the US are reporting elevated levels of flu including one pediatric influenza related death last week. Friday Harbor and Orcas are still reporting elevated levels of flu this last week. The incidence is not as high on Lopez Island.

So far the locally circulating strain of influenza is covered by this year’s flu vaccine; and County Personal Health Manager Susan Leff noted that it is not too late to be vaccinated.

Leff also urges parents to be extra careful when treating their children for fever.

Anyone under 18-years of age should not take aspirin to treat a fever, because of the danger of Reyes syndrome (rare confusion and seizure disorder). Also this year, parents using Tylenol to treat the fever need to read instructions very carefully because the concentration of the liquid medication has changed and the dosage syringe can be hard to read. Tylenol has recalled its grape oral suspension formulation, due to the dosing syringe malfunction.

Health officials urge people to take common sense measures to protect themselves, but also be on the lookout for symptoms that indicate serious problems.

Stay home and rest, avoid close contract with well people in your home so you do not make them sick, drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss like dehydration, treat fever and cough with medicines available without a prescription.

Those who get very sick, are pregnant or have a medical condition (such as asthma) that creates a higher risk of flu complications, should check with a doctor and see if treatments with an antiviral medicine is needed.

It's important to contact a medical professional right away if you or your child shows any of these signs of dehydration:

• Sunken soft spot on top of your infants head

• Diarrhea or vomiting in infants

• Baby seems less active or more irritable than normal

• Fewer tears when crying or not making any tears

• Child has a fever for more than 12 hours and is not able to drink fluids, throwing up, or having diarrhea

• Child is irritable or cranky, hard to wake up, have little energy, appears dull or weak (not interacting)

• Fast breathing or trouble breathing

• Flu symptoms improve but then return with a fever and worse cough

• Fever with a rash

In adults signs of dehydration are:

• Not making tears

• Less than normal amount of urine

• Dry skin, mouth, or eyes

• Fast beating heart

• Shortness of breath

• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

• Sudden dizziness

• Confusion

• Flu like symptoms that improve but then return with fever or worse cough

Please see the following references or call San Juan County Health Department at 378‑4474 or your health care provider if you have any questions. Staying home when you are sick allow you to get better and protects our community.

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