MEDFORD, Ore. —
UPDATE: Hot on the heels of news that Providence Medford has declared an official start to Flu Season, Jackson County health officials have signaled their agreement — issuing additional information to help the public resist the spread:
Influenza (also known as flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. It is important to note that the flu usually comes on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms: fever or feeling feverish/chills; cough sore throat; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; fatigue (tiredness); and some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Health officials say that those at the highest risk of severe illness from flu are seniors (age 65 or older), children, pregnant women, and those with chronic medical conditions or weak immune systems. Anyone in those categories should contact their healthcare provider if they develop fever alongside a cough or sore throat.
“Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent the flu, and it is not too late to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Jim Shames, Health Officer for Jackson County Public Health. “Everyone six months and older should be vaccinated every year to prevent illness in themselves and others.”
(Updated 12/10/18 at 2:30 p.m.)
INITIAL REPORT: With more and more patients exhibiting signs of the flu, Providence Medford Medical Center has declared their own official start to flu season, according to a statement from the hospital on Monday.
"We are seeing high numbers of patients with influenza in Jackson County and in our hospital, emergency department and other practice settings. As a result, we are declaring the start of flu season at Providence Medford, effective today, Monday, Dec. 10," the hospital said.
The decision only applies to Providence Medford and does not mean the same is true of other medical organizations.
For Providence, at least, the declaration means that there are a few additional resctrictions for visitors in order to keep patients, staff and the public healthy:
• The minimum age for well visitors is 12, with exceptions made for younger children who are immediate family members of the patient.
• Visitors to intensive care, maternity, and oncology units are limited to those essential to a patient’s emotional well-being and care.
Providence also issued the following reminders and recommendations for the public:
• It’s not too late to be vaccinated.
• Stay home if you are ill.
• Practice respiratory and hand hygiene – cover your cough and clean your hands.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) classified last year's flu season as being particularly severe, especially for children and the elderly. However, it has not issued any evaluations for this year as yet.
"It is not possible to predict what this flu season will be like. While flu spreads every year, the timing, severity, and length of the season varies from one season to another," the CDC said.