Flu Activity Continues Statewide
SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that a 2-year-old girl from McKinley County and 15-year-old boy from Torrance County died from influenza-related illnesses in the past month.
Since Oct. 1, 2012, the Department of Health has identified 89 pneumonia and influenza-related deaths. Last flu season, the Department identified one influenza-related pediatric death.
“It is still important and not too late to get vaccinated, as flu is likely to continue to circulate in New Mexico for some weeks,” said State Epidemiologist Michael Landen, MD, MPH. “The flu vaccine is the best way for you to protect yourself and your families, especially children and seniors.”
New Mexico has reported widespread flu activity throughout the state for the last six weeks. Influenza activity in the state appears to have peaked the last week in December; however, flu activity remains higher than peak levels seen in past recent influenza seasons.
Of the 89 pneumonia and influenza deaths, 11 were confirmed to have been caused by influenza. Pneumonia is a common complication of flu; therefore, pneumonia deaths are also tracked during flu season as many may also be related to influenza.
Pneumonia and influenza-related deaths are determined from healthcare provider reports, autopsy findings, and from deaths certificates where pneumonia or influenza was listed as the underlying or contributing cause of the death.
Monitoring deaths related to pneumonia and influenza helps describe the overall impact of influenza in New Mexico.
While everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that people in the following groups get vaccinated, either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
Those at high risk who do develop flu should receive medical evaluation and possibly antiviral medication as soon as possible:
- Pregnant women (any trimester)
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People age 50 and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, and lung or heart disease and those with immune systems suppressed by 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 health care workers and caregivers of babies younger than 6 months
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who are morbidly obese
Check with your health care provider about flu vaccines. If you do not have a health care provider or your health care provider does not have vaccine, contact your local public health office or call the NM Immunization line at 1-866-681-5872. You can find your public health office by looking at http://nmhealth.org/phd/phoffice.shtml.
The Department also recommends the following to help prevent catching or spreading influenza:
- Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently, especially after contact with other people.
- Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and dispose of the tissue afterward or cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Clean your hands after you cough or sneeze, even if you use a tissue. Use soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available and your hands are not visibly soiled.
- Stay home if you get the flu.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.