From the Editors
In this ongoing series, we talk to local health professionals to find out what kinds of bugs, viruses, and other “icky sickies” are hitting the Champaign-Urbana area.
We’ve gotten a taste of some nice warm days and spring feels just within our grasp, but we haven’t quite escaped winter and the notorious flu season.
Amber Oberheim, a family nurse practitioner at Christie Clinic in Monticello, said she hadn’t seen any cases of flu this year until recently when at least two of her patients tested positive for Influenza A.
“By the end of February, we’re not really thinking about flu anymore, but it’s here,” Oberheim said.
The Centers for Disease Control released a statement to health care providers earlier this month warning of the potential for a late flu season.
The statement urges doctors and nurses to treat high-risk patients with antiviral medications as soon as possible and to encourage all patients to get a flu vaccine if they haven’t received one yet.
“I kind of thought we were just going to fly through the season without having anything,” Oberheim. “It could have a little impact here over the next six weeks or so probably.”
Symptoms of Influenza include fever, cough, headache, muscle ache, and extreme fatigue.
Oberheim said if a patient is showing those symptoms, a nasal swab is done at the clinic and results are available in about 10 minutes.
If a patient tests positive, many health providers will prescribe Tamiflu or other antiviral medicine if it’s within the first 72 hours.
Last year was a pretty significant flu season, with even vaccinated patients still coming down with the flu.
But Oberheim thinks the vaccine hit the mark a little better this year in covering the strains.
“I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as hard of a flu season as we had last year,” she said.
Conjunctivitis or “pink eye” has also been running rampant lately. Strep throat is still “pretty heavy,” as well as bronchitis and croup, according to Oberheim.
In terms of prevention, the best way to combat these illnesses is good hand washing techniques.
“Whether you’re talking about strep, pink eye or croup or the flu, be smart about your hand washing. That’s huge,” she said. “You’re probably going to prevent the spread of most of those yucky bugs that nobody wants the same way and that is just to make sure you’re washing your hands.”