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Health departments reporting another influenza outbreak

Measures being taken in care centers in Crook and Jefferson counties

by: FILE PHOTO - Crook and Jefferson County Health Departments are currently investigationg influenza-like outbreaks.

The Crook and Jefferson County Health Departments are currently investigating outbreaks of influenza-like illness among residents and staff at local care facilities.
   "As of Friday, April 4, three people from a Crook County facility have tested positive for Influenza A and 15 additional people have been ill with influenza-like symptoms," according to Karen Yeargain, LPN, communicable disease coordinator with the Crook County Health Department. Department officials declined to name the care facilities.
   "We chose not to name the facility because influenza is also circulating in the community," Yeargain said. "There was one (facility) in each community."
   "In one Jefferson County facility, three residents have tested positive for Influenza A and eight other persons have been ill with influenza-like symptoms."
   "We are working closely with the facilities to review and strengthen infection control measures, with a goal of decreasing the spread among residents and staff," Yeargain said. "Antiviral medications are being administered to both residents and staff."
   "We're still, at least in Crook County, still seeing some staff illness but not seeing (new) illness in residents," she continued.
   Testing of samples from some of the ill people is being done at the Oregon State Public Health Lab to determine whether the strain of influenza involved in these outbreaks are similar to those that make up this year's vaccine or not.
   Influenza is a highly contagious disease, spreading through contact with respiratory secretions from an infected person. Symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, headache and body aches. Unfortunately, secondary infections such as pneumonia can occur in some cases. It is estimated that almost 450 Oregonians die of influenza every year, and nationally the flu kills an estimated 36,000 people per year.
   "Although there has also been a slight increase in influenza cases occurring in the general community within Crook County, this does not hold true in Jefferson County," Yeargain said.
   "We have not seen an increase in Influenza A in our general community," said Terry Kudma, LPN, communicable disease coordinator for the Jefferson County Health Department.
   Crook County Health Department Director Muriel DeLavergne-Brown, RN, BS, provided some advice for residents.
   "The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated against influenza, and there's still time to do that," DeLavergne-Brown said.
   Both Yeargain and Kudma agreed that it is very important that high risk populations and healthcare workers receive their flu vaccines.
   Vaccinations still available
   You can still receive influenza vaccinations at your local health department. The Crook County Health Department's phone number is 447-5165, the Jefferson County Health Department can be reached by calling (541) 475-4456 and the Deschutes County Health Department number is 322-7400.