Seasonal flu activity remains high in both our state and nationwide.
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reports the number of flu-related illnesses and deaths continue to increase across New Mexico.
NMDOH reports 28 flu-related deaths and 100 pneumonia related deaths in adults so far in the 2017-2018 flu season.
Flu-related hospitalizations, especially in those aged 65 and older, continue to steadily increase.since October, the department has investigated 27-flu outbreaks in long-term care facilities, a number that is already more than the number of outbreaks investigated the entire 2016-2017 flu season.
“We encourage New Mexicans to continue to take simple precautions, such as washing your hands regularly and staying home when sick, to avoid the spread of the flu and if you haven’t already, get your flu shot,” said Dr. Michael Landen, New Mexico State Epidemiologist.
Influenza vaccine provides protection from several strains of flu, including Influenza B – a strain of flu that is now being more frequently reported across the United States.
The advice on how to avoid getting the flu remains the same: frequently wash your hands, cover mouth when you cough or sneeze, and – whenever possible – stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings when you’re sick. What may be a mild case of flu for you may be deadly if passed on to someone else. By preventing yourself from getting the flu, you are also protecting people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness.
New Mexicans sick with flu (or flu-like symptoms) in the following high-risk categories should receive antiviral medications as soon as possible:
- Pregnant women (any trimester) and up to two weeks post-partum;
- Children younger than 5 years, but especially children younger than 2 years old;
- People age 65 years and older;
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease and those with immunosuppression from medication or disease;
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities;
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including healthcare personnel and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months;
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives; and
- People who are morbidly obese.
NMDOH public health offices statewide continue to offer flu vaccinations while supplies last for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated. For locations nearest you, visit New Mexico Department of Health. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who go to public health offices are asked to bring their insurance card.