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January 7, 2014
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Flu cases rise at South Shore

The flu is on the rise in the South Lake Tahoe area, according to Barton Health.

Health experts have reported seeing a significant increase in flu activity from the same time last year, and patients seem to be sicker this year.

Cases also seem to be more severe among healthy, young adults, infection preventionist Vicki McKenna said.

“This is the flu season you want to be vaccinated,” McKenna said in a press release.

Cases of the flu were identified in South Shore before Christmas, said Dr. Paul Rork, who practices at Barton Urgent Care at Stateline Medical Center.

Symptoms could include high fever, coughing, chills, fatigue, headaches or a sore throat, he said.

“Currently we are seeing two to five positive flu cases a day,” Rork said in an email.

Getting a vaccine will reduce those symptoms and the chances of catching the flu by 60 percent, McKenna said.

The current formula includes a vaccine for H1N1 — a more serious strain of the virus — although no cases of H1N1 have been reported in South Lake Tahoe this winter, according to Barton.

However, the California Department of Public Health has stated that H1N1 — the same virus that caused a 2009 pandemic — is the predominant flu virus this season. As of Jan. 3, four flu-associated deaths among people under the age of 64 have been reported in the state this season. None of them were in El Dorado County.

“Although it is early in the influenza season, influenza activity is expected to increase substantially in the coming weeks or months,” according to a Dept. of Public Health document.

Barton Health reported that it has been complying with El Dorado County protocols that require all non-immunized healthcare workers to wear masks. The effort is made to prevent the identified virus from spreading further.

Community members can also take steps to avoid getting or spreading the flu by washing their hands, wearing masks in healthcare facilities when sick, avoiding contact with people who are sick, staying home when sick, getting immunized and not visiting hospitalized patients when ill, according to Barton.

If flu symptoms are experienced, Rork suggests visiting a doctor immediately.

“If the flu is addressed early,” he said, “there is medication that can be prescribed by a doctor.”

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jan 7, 2014 07:32PM Published Jan 9, 2014 01:59PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.