Flu season in the NMI

(CHCC) — While the CNMI is not experiencing the same high rate of flu cases as the U.S., according to Dr. Paul White, the CNMI territorial epidemiologist at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., the CNMI’s 2017 flu season remained higher for longer before returning to expected levels, beginning in late August and continuing into late November.

“So far in 2018, influenza was predictably high in the first week with everyone returning to work after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. However, in week two we saw cases drop again,” stated Dr. White.

Dr. White added that there is some evidence that influenza-like illness may be more severe this season, with more prolonged fever cases than would otherwise be expected. Although prolonged fever may be attributed to other causes, in most cases, follow-up has shown that the fever is likely flu-related.

Working under the Public Health and Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program of the CHCC, Dr. White and team conduct continuous surveillance of communicable diseases in the CNMI. Weekly surveillance reports on communicable disease are prepared by the program and disseminated to community partners with the aim of preventing and controlling any new or re-emerging infectious diseases that may pose a threat to the CNMI.

As explained by Dr. White, the overall flu numbers in the CNMI are not high, but there is still a high burden of flu cases in the emergency room of the hospital, so it’s important that the public take precautions.

Dr. Ngoc-Phuong Luu, medical director of public health at the CHCC, recommends that the public get immunized and stop transmission of the flu by covering the face and nose when sneezing, washing hands often, and staying away from work or crowds when sick.

The quadrivalent flu shot is available at all public health immunization clinics on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota, and most private provider clinics. The Division of Public Health Immunization Program is open at the CHCC main Navy Hill campus from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, and remains open during lunch. The immunization clinics on Tinian and Rota maintain the same hours, but close for lunch.

The quadrivalent flu shot contains protection against the two most common types of type A influenza strains (H1N1 & H3N2) and both type B influenza strains for a total protection against four types of flu viruses in one shot.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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