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The Hesston Record
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Flu, Stomach Viruses Hit Hesston

Posted 1/18/2018

Record StaffPROVIDED PHOTO
THE Kansas Department of Health tracks influenza outbreaks across the state. This year’s flu season appears to be spiking earlier than the 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 seasons. PROVIDED PHOTO THE Kansas Department of Health tracks influenza outbreaks across the state. This year’s flu season appears to be spiking earlier than the 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 seasons.

This winter, Hesston has been hit especially hard by a number of viruses circulating the community, according to Partners in Family Care. 

“What we’re seeing in our offices has mirrored the state-wide and nation-wide trends. This is earlier than typically flu season and more virulent.  Most people with influenza have a relatively sudden onset - within a day - with a high fever and chills,” said Aaron Fast, MD. 

Leslie Helmer with Newton Medical Center said according to their lab and Infection Control Center, since November, there have been 53 cases of Influenza A and 10 cases of Influenza B at the hospital and 66 cases of Influenza A and three cases of Influenza B at Newton Medical Center clinics - nine of the Influenza A and one Influenza B cases were from Mid-Kansas Family Practice, according to Helmer.  

“In talking with Infection Control, typically there is a spike in February, but we’ve really seen a spike that started in December this past year,” she said.  

Skip Cowan, the Community Service Coordinator and Disease Investigator for the Harvey County Health Department said there are 50 reportable diseases, none of which include influenza or stomach viruses. 

“The flu is not actually reportable, so we don’t have answers on specific numbers of cases,” he said. 

However, Cowan added after speaking to state officials, “They’re seeing AH3 and they’re seeing B and AH1.  AH3 is more prevalent than the other two.” 

According to Cowan, state officials will not have definite numbers until February. 

“As far as we know, there haven’t been any anti-retroviral resistance - so things like TamiFlu are effective,” he said. 

In addition, stomach viruses that are affecting community members are also not reportable to the HCHD. 

“There’s not a specific thing [causing stomach issues]. We don’t track those things. People can get sick from food-born illnesses, undercooked food, not washing hands,” he said. 

Fast said many patients with stomach illnesses do not receive a hard diagnosis.

“We’ve seen some of that - a lot of those are short-lived. It can be strep throat that causes nausea and vomiting. There are bugs that come through and are not identified because they resolve within 12 to 24-hours,” he said. 

Cowan said even residents who received flu shots are not immune from stomach viruses. 

“Typically, the flu is a respiratory disease; you’re going to have coughing and sneezing. When you get a stomach issue, it’s something else getting you sick,” he said. 

Regardless of the specific illness, Cowan advised vigilance to stay healthy. 

“It’s all the standard stuff - cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands, don’t go to work sick, don’t send kids to school sick.  Don’t leave the house and take care of yourself,” he said.

Cowan added there are many daily germ carriers to be wary of, such as doorknobs and other objects touched by multiple people. 

For residents who do become ill, Fast said it is up to each individual when to see a physician. 

“It depends on the person’s previous state of health. Many times people recover without intervention. People with underlying medical conditions should be quicker to go to the doctor. It may be that their chronic disease medication needs to be adjusted when they are ill.  If a person is already sick to begin with, they need to be watched more closely,” he said.