Flu Prevention

High Flu Alert in the Community

Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital has seen a dramatic increase in the number of positive tests for the flu over the last two week and is concerned about protecting their patients, staff and visitors. The Hospital is asking people with flu-like symptoms such as a fever, cough, or runny nose to refrain from visiting patients.  All patients with flu-like symptoms that are coming into the emergency room or other outpatient areas for testing or doctor visits are being asked to wear a mask while at the hospital. Disposable masks as well as hand sanitizers are available in waiting rooms and nursing stations throughout the hospital. 

The flu, more scientifically known as influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by influenza viruses. The influenza virus usually enters the body through mucus membranes in the mouth, nose, or eyes.  When a person with the flu coughs or sneezes, the virus then becomes airborne and can be inhaled by anyone nearby. You can also get the flu if you’ve touched a contaminated surface like a telephone or a doorknob and then touch your nose or mouth. Of course, the risk of infection is greater in highly populated areas like schools, buses, crowded urban settings and hospitals.

Getting a flu vaccine is still the single most effective way to prevent getting and spreading the flu to others, but even the vaccine is not 100 percent effective. You may still get the flu if you have been vaccinated but it is likely to be less severe.   It does take a couple of weeks to develop immunity to the flu after receiving the vaccine, so the sooner you get it the better.

If you have flu symptoms or were exposed to someone who does, now is the time to call your doctor.  The flu is a virus, and your doctor can prescribe antiviral flu medicines to actually help treat the flu virus, not just mask symptoms.  

For more information call your primary care physician or go to the following websites:  www.lewistownhospital.org, www.flufacts.com, or http://www.cdc.gov/flu