Monday Medical: H1N1 pandemic flu reaches Routt |
Rosanne Iversen

Back to: News

Monday Medical: H1N1 pandemic flu reaches Routt

Pandemic 2009 H1N1 (swine) flu is here in Routt County. And with school back in session, numbers are on the rise.

Typically, we see our first cases of “seasonal flu” in mid-winter.

However, during a pandemic, the new or “novel” flu can arrive anytime. Routt County had its first case of the new H1N1 flu in June 2009.

It is important to point out that a pandemic flu, such as the 2009 H1N1, is not the same thing as seasonal influenza. Seasonal flu comes around every year. It is especially dangerous for the elderly, children and people whose immune systems are weakened by chronic illnesses.

With a pandemic flu, everyone is at risk.

Pandemic flu results from an all-new virus, rather than an annually evolving one. That is why this year’s H1N1, much like the 1918 swine flu, will affect the young and the healthy. It also will spread more quickly.

Our schools are prepared with hand sanitizer and a plan in place to send children home who have a cough and a fever.

Federal, state and local government also have plans in place. The 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine should arrive in Steamboat Springs in the middle of October.

You will be able to get the vaccine from physician offices as well as the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association.

Not everyone will be able to get the vaccine when it first arrives. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the first to receive the vaccine will be: pregnant women; people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age; health care and emergency medical services personnel; persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old; and people ages 25 through 64 who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

Why this tiered approach? There will be enough of the vaccine for everyone, but it will trickle in.

We want to first immunize those at highest risk of spreading it, as well as those most likely to have severe complications.

You may have noticed individuals older than 65 have been excluded from the first tier. This is because almost all cases of H1N1 so far have been younger than 65.

More than 50 percent of cases are younger than 25. It is possible that the older you are, the more likely your body can recognize and defend against the 2009 H1N1 because of its similarity to other viruses in the past.

Get vaccinated now for seasonal flu. When the 2009 H1N1 vaccine becomes available, make sure to get the shot for that, too.

The seasonal flu shot will not protect you from 2009 H1N1 because it is a different virus.

Take the flu seriously, and protect yourself. In the United States, 36,000 people die annually from the seasonal flu. The 2009 H1N1 should be treated as being just as deadly and has the ability to affect more people.

Rosanne Iversen, M.D., is a family physician at Steamboat Family Medicine and has been practicing medicine in the Yampa Valley since 1992.

If you go

Yampa Valley Medical Center will host “2009 H1N1 (swine) Flu Update” on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Presented by Dr. Rosanne Iversen, Steamboat Family Medicine, Steve Hilley, RN, YVMC’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, YVMC, and Jim Johnsen, EMT, Emergency Preparedness & Response Coordinator, and the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurses Association. The presentation will be in the hospital’s Conference Room 1. This event is free and open to the public.

Tips and symptoms for swine flu

How to protect yourself

– Wash hands frequently

– Use hand sanitizer

– Avoid putting objects in your mouth or by your face

– Cover your cough

– Get vaccinated

– Avoid large gatherings

If you get sick

– Stay home at least 24 hours without fever except to go to the doctor.

– If you still have a cough or runny nose upon returning to school or work, cover your cough/sneeze and wash frequently. Studies have shown you still are spreading the virus.

– Limit your exposure to others in your home. Consider staying in your room and using your own bathroom.

– Clean the bathroom and other surfaces daily.

– If you are severely ill or at risk for complications, your physician may prescribe antiviral medications.

– Take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for fevers (do not give Aspirin to children).

Flu Symptoms

– Sore throat

– Runny or congested nose

– Dry cough

– Body aches, headaches

– Fatigue

– Fever

– Diarrhea and vomiting

For more information go to: