The Lane County Public Health Department has reported multiple cases of influenza in Lane County and on the University of Oregon campus. The UO Health Center is trying to spread the word on the importance of getting flu shots and informing people of ways to stop the spread of influenza.
The Lane County Public Health Department has seen an increase in flu reports recently. Since December, Lane County has had 11 outbreaks of the flu, six in the last week, according to a health alert released by the department. They have received reports of seven deaths related to “influenza-associated infections” in the past month, such as retired UO professor Edwin Coleman.
Richard Brunader, a doctor at the health center, discussed the best ways to stop the spread of the flu and how they are trying to educate people more on the benefits of getting the vaccine.
“We are really trying, when people come in here, to say, ‘Hey, would you like to get the flu shot?’ So I have been looking at if we can do a better job in terms of education so that more people will know about it,” Brunader said. “It is more prone in the elderly. It’s more prone in the very young and those with underlying medical problems.”
The health center offers shots for $20 for students and $30 for faculty and staff.
Brunader said that modern medicine has prevented the flu from being as deadly as it once was, but that people can still get life-threatening cases. The biggest impact the majority of people will suffer from is time away from their busy lives.
“So how about if you’re going to school and you miss three or four days of classes?” Brunader said. “That’s the impact. The vaccine we have covers four different viruses and it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective.”
In 2009 there were over 500 confirmed cases of influenza statewide. This season that number jumped to 700. Brunader stressed that the data does fluctuate over time, and this surge in cases does not indicate that the flu is on the rise. In fact, the data collected every year indicates that the flu remains steady, but it does depend on how many people decide to get vaccinated each year.
The most common ways for influenza to spread is through coughing, sneezing or even talking close to someone. People can also get the flu by touching a surface that infected people have also interacted with. Symptoms can vary from a fever to a cough and sore throat. The health center recommends scheduling a doctor’s appointment if you’re feeling ill or unsure.
The flu can be fatal for people who already have serious health conditions, as well as smokers, children, pregnant women and the elderly.
For more information regarding flu shots and how to schedule an appointment, visit the UO Health Center flu page.
Lane County Public Health also has a webpage that offers ways to get the flu shot and prevent the spread of the flu.