Flu Season Has Arrived: Hospital Reminds Everyone to Take Precautions

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ROCK SPRINGS — There are reports of influenza in Wyoming, and Sweetwater County is no exception.

“We’re starting to see an uptick in people with flu symptoms,” said Noreen Hove, Infection Prevention Director at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

So far, there hasn’t been an unusual number of cases, but MHSC healthcare professionals want residents to start taking precautions.

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“We want to stay ahead of it,” Hove said. “The first and most important way to do that is to get a flu shot.

“To help stop the spread of influenza, great hand hygiene is needed along with being vaccinated for this illness,” she said. 

“People are traveling all over Wyoming right now for kids’ activities, holiday shopping, etc.,” she said. “So, while Sweetwater County may be experiencing lower-than-average flu reports, other areas in the state and surrounding states may have a higher incidence of flu. 

“If you are traveling via planes, trains, and automobiles, wash or gel your hands frequently, cover your cough by coughing into your elbow – not your hand – and be mindful of your personal space,” Hove said.

While there are many different flu viruses, flu vaccines protect against the three or four viruses that research suggests will be most common, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone 6 months of age or older.

To avoid many types of illness, the No. 1 thing you can do is to keep your hands clean.

Think about that if you take your mobile phone in the restroom, when your hands are on the supermarket cart, when you hold the restaurant menu, when your dog licks your hand, and when you use your kitchen sponge, Hove said.


The Wyoming Department of Health’s October 18, 2019, graphic shows the week 42 influenza and influenza-like illness activity.

The CDC offers some insight:

•  Up to 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hands. 

• A single gram of human feces — which is about the weight of a paper clip — can contain one trillion germs.

• People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realizing it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose, and mouth and make us sick.

• Germs from unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks while people prepare or consume them. Germs can multiply in some types of foods or drinks, under certain conditions, and make people sick.

• Germs from unwashed hands can be transferred to other objects, like handrails, table tops, or toys, and then transferred to another person’s hands. 

• Removing germs through handwashing therefore helps prevent diarrhea and respiratory infections and may even help prevent skin and eye infections. 

• Handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and almost 1 out of 5 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.

If you have questions about the flu shot or how to prevent the spread of germs, talk to your family care providers at the Family, Internal & Occupational Clinics of Sweetwater Memorial, (307) 212-7708 or sweetwatermemorial.com.

For more information, go to:

Nationwide mortalities: CDC reports the current total for pediatric death for the United States 2019-2020 season is at 3: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm

Wyoming mortalities: There have been two reported pneumonia and influenza mortalities in Wyoming reported for the 2019-20 season: https://health.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019-42-Influenza-Report.pdf

Wyoming activity: The state is reporting sporadic activity this week (MMWR Week 42).  Healthcare providers reported seven influenza cases (rapid influenza diagnostic tests and PCR confirmed Tests: https://health.wyo.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019-42-Influenza-Report.pdf