Local Flu Season Q&A with Bedford’s Community Nurse

Thank you to Bedford’s Community Nurse Mark Waksmonski, RN, and the Board of Health for answering The Bedford Citizen‘s questions about the current spate of flu-like illnesses around town.

Q: While there’s a lot of chat about flu in families and in the schools, does the Board of Health track the numbers?
A: The Board of Health monitors the number of all influenza cases that are confirmed through laboratory testing data provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).  The lab test results inform us of which influenza strains are causing more infections over other strains.

This year’s vaccine helps to protect against two different type A strains and two different type B strains. Type A and Type B strains are the ones that cause more significant illness.

We confer closely with the MA DPH on the virus types seen each year as certain populations are more susceptible to disease based on the virus type and we strive to focus our outreach based on this information.

Q: Do you see more incidents this year than others?
A: The number of total laboratory-confirmed influenza cases this year is nearly equivalent to last year, as of today’s date.

Q: Is a lab test the only way to identify Flu B?
A: Yes.

Q: Are the symptoms similar to the flu protected by this year’s vaccine?
A: The flu vaccine protects us against the influenza virus and not the symptoms that accompany an influenza infection. Flu symptoms and illness resulting from the flu can vary based on the strain of flu causing disease, the status of one’s immune system, pregnancy and age.

Q: When should someone reach out to a physician, either through a primary care person or a visit to an urgent care facility?
A: Individuals should reach out to a physician when they feel ill. Sometimes calling their primary care office and speaking to staff can help with decision making about how to best be evaluated. In the event of an emergency, calling 911 or going to a hospital is most prudent.

Q: What can families do to care for patients at home?
A: Care for a flu patient at home should include:

  • Stay at home and rest
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated fluids
  • Treat aches and fever with over the counter remedies according to their directions
  • Practice cough etiquette
  • Decrease close contact with high-risk individuals such as children, the elderly, pregnant woman, and those with a weakened immune system

Q: What are the best preventive measures to keep the flu from spreading?
Basic protective measures include

  • Handwashing
  • Getting a flu shot
  • Decreasing direct contact time with ill individuals
  • Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, faucet handles, electronics,

 


Keep our journalism strong! Support The Citizen Journalism Fund today. Contact The Bedford Citizen: editor@thebedfordcitizen.org or 781-325-8606

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