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Jan 18, 2018

Healthy Living Prepares for the Upcoming Flu Season

U.S. news outlets have been reporting a severe flu epidemic that has swept across the United States for over a week of. In comparison to last flu season, the U.S. is seeing more cases of the flu leading to hospitalization and more flu-related deaths. If the adage is true that when the north sneezes we catch a cold, how concerned should we be about this particularly aggressive flu strain dominating the North? That’s we find out in tonight’s Healthy Living.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Currently, forty-nine of the fifty states in the U.S. are suffering from a severe flu epidemic. This follows what was also a severe flu season in Australia and mirrors the epidemic levels of flu now being reported in Britain. In Belize in December, the Ministry of Health reported an increase in flu cases and at this time, Director of Health Services Dr. Marvin Manzanero, says the number of flu cases in Belize is as expected.

 

Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“We haven’t seen a spike in acute respiratory tract infection which is all not only viral but bacterial as well. We haven’t seen that. We only saw the spike at recorded at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital, and the Central Health Region reported at the end of last year. We are still in the flu season so we really can’t let our guard down. So from now until the end of March into April, we do expect to still have an increase perhaps, but we have not detected any out of the norm. We are in the flu season, and we need to take the necessary precaution to prevent an outbreak.”

 

For Head of Pediatrics at the K.H.M.H., Doctor Cecilio Eck, in both the public and private settings he has been advising parents to be vigilant with their children especially with the epidemic reports coming out of the U.S.

 

Cecilio Eck

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Head of Pediatrics, K.H.M.H.

“We should hope for the best but prepare for the worse. This particular strain H3N2 is pretty bad and when you look back at the literature and the history of it. The last time this happened a couple of years ago in the US in Belize we had more cases of severe illnesses reported and more deaths.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“How often do you see flue related deaths?”

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“In Belize, it varies year to year, but each year we do see flu-related deaths.  If it’s not the virus itself that our body can’t deal with then it’s the complications is what kills us. It will start with a fever, loss of appetite, bruk-up feeling we say in Belize, bone pain, stuffiness, headache, fever, but then your immune system would get weakened and we call them opportunistic bacteria. That will jump in the mucus that is in the lung get infected, and the body becomes infected through the lungs and what usually kills or is the final episode is a pneumonia.”

 

Doctor Eck recommends getting a late-season flu shot if you didn’t do so before the start of the season. While this year’s shot may not be perfect, it’s better than nothing.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Parents tell me “Doc, its only ten percent effective so why bother?” I tell them I would take a ten percent discount rather than zero percent all day all night especially to the vulnerable.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“Who is most vulnerable and why?”

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Remember this virus will attack anyone, but those who are most vulnerable are those who don’t get the vaccine and even without the vaccine the young kids maybe less than six months the elderly anybody with a chronic illness, the kids with asthma with diabetes with sickle cell. All school-age kids as well because they don’t practice as much hygiene as much me and you would.”

 

Also vulnerable are parents of school-aged children, healthcare workers and in general adults who regularly come in contact with a lot of people. Vaccines are still available at all public health clinics for free and private institutions for a cost. While the Ministry keeps monitoring, the advice is to maintain good hygiene. Wash your hands, cough in your elbows and visit a doctor if you have flu symptoms for too long.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“If you feel very ill stay home from work or keep your kid home from school. Give a simple cough-cold remedies but if those don’t start to work and the kid or you start to feel worse. Visit your healthcare professional and get seen.”

 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“We just have to be on the lookout. We are monitoring. We do weekly trends, and if anything comes up, we’ll surely be alerting the public in that regard.”

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