Doak Walker Care Center battles outbreak

Nine cases of influenza reported

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— The Doak Walker Care Center has isolated residents in the last four days to try to contain an influenza outbreak.

Nine cases of influenza, including one staff person, were reported at the care center, said Christine McKelvie, public relations director at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

Because of the cases, the center kept residents in their rooms and asked relatives not to visit over the weekend. McKelvie said it is the first time in memory that such precautions have been taken at the care center.

"Influenza can lead to a very serious upper respiratory infection. Because many of the residents are already in fragile health, it could become serious more quickly. That is why we took precautions," McKelvie said.

The Doak Walker Care Center is an extended care facility that houses about 50 patients.

The care center does not know how the virus started, but McKelvie said all patients and staff received flu shots last fall.

"General wisdom is even if it doesn't fully protect, it does lessen the severity and duration," McKelvie said.

None of the nine patients are in critical condition and no new cases have been reported since Friday, McKelvie said.

On Thursday, the center decided to cancel its regular activities with the GrandKids Child Care Center and on Friday staff wore masks, encouraged most of the residents to stay in their rooms and brought food to the residents' rooms.

All of the residents and nursing staff received anti-viral medication that can stop some of the impact from influenza.

McKelvie said the care center decided to administer influenza tests after several people at the center showed similar symptoms.

"Illness can certainly spread (here) just like at schools," McKelvie said. "We are very careful about monitoring such a thing and acting very quickly."

Dr. David Williams said none of his patients at the Steamboat Medical Group have been diagnosed with influenza. But, he said a fellow doctor reported five to 10 positive influenza tests in the last few weeks.

He said the cases that are being seen now do not have the complete symptoms of influenza, which include a headache, high fever, sore throat, coughing and aching muscles and joints.

Williams said this strand of the virus does not seem as bad as the typical influenza. Because the strand does not necessarily feature all the symptoms, it could mean more people have it but have not been diagnosed.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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