Mt. Vernon hospital offers flu season advice

MOUNT VERNON, IL (KFVS) - Good Samaritan Regional Health Center and St. Mary's Hospital say they are seeing a spike in Influenza A.

The area is experiencing an increase in severe respiratory illnesses related to H1N1 according to Deb Manning, RN Employee Health Nurse at Good Samaritan Regional Health Center. If you have flu like symptoms or are not feeling well, please do not visit patients.

According to the Center for Disease Control, facilities from West Virginia to California are also restricting visitor access in an effort to contain influenza outbreaks.

"Common symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose and body aches. In some people these symptoms are much more severe than in others. And, unlike a cold where you typically feel it coming on slowly, with flu the symptoms often are dramatic," Manning said.

So how can you avoid the flu? The health center said: first, make sure you're regularly washing your hands, especially before eating. Gel sanitizers are a good option when soap and water are not available. Also, get vaccinated.

"It's never too late," Manning said. "It takes one to two weeks after you receive the shot to develop the immunity. So if you haven't gotten a flu shot, there is still time."

Also canvassing our community this year is norovirus, which is more commonly called the "stomach flu."

"Norovirus is pretty widespread in our community right now," Manning said. "You'll know it when you have it. It's characterized by a sudden onset of diarrhea and vomiting that typically lasts about one to three days."

Manning said it comes on so fast that you literally can wake up feeling fine but feel terrible by the time you get to work. It doesn't take long to develop. You can become sick just 24 hours after being exposed to it.

"Cleaning your home is really important if a family member is sick," Manning said. "It doesn't take many of these virus particles to bring on symptoms in someone else. That means if your family member has it, you really need to use a bleach towelette and wipe down high-touch surfaces like your cupboard handles, light switches, remote controls, door knobs, faucet handles – anywhere the infected individual would frequently have touched."

She also recommends people avoid sharing a bathroom with affected individuals. That's because virus particles are spread into the air when someone vomits so the bathroom would have the most particles. And keep in mind, norovirus can be spread from the moment you feel ill to at least three days after you feel better.

To help slow the spread of the flu, Manning said, "We really encourage you and your children to stay home if you're sick."

So, stay healthy and protect yourself and loved ones.

More information about both influenza and stomach flu are available at

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