Health officials brace for double-dose of flu

Health officials across Nebraska are gearing up for a busy fall, as this could be the year of two flus, essentially. Deb Scholten, executive director of the Northeast Nebraska Public Health Department in Wayne, says her biggest concern is that people who catch H1N1 or the traditional flu will try to forge on and go to work or school.

Scholten says, “When we have normal, seasonal flu, we try to get people to stay home but people have to go to work and have a paycheck, but we really don’t want these viruses to be spread any more than they already are.”

Health officials around the state will be watching schools carefully and Scholten has some advice for parents. “If your child is sick, keep them home from school and when you call into the school to tell them that they will not be in school, be sure to tell them they have flu-like symptoms,” Scholten says. That information will be entered into a database — not names, but just the numbers of people infected.

She says they’re expecting to see H1N1 cases combined with seasonal flu, putting a strain on the system. “The doctors’ offices are going to be overflowing,” Scholten says, “They are anyway just from the normal seasonal flu.” She says to call before going in to a doctor’s office as precautions may be need to be taken before you arrive.

She says people who are at high-risk should be very careful, including young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. Scholten says businesses should make back-up plans in case a large number of employees are affected by the flu.

Thanks to Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton

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