Central Peninsula Hospital has confirmed 34 cases of influenza since the October start of the flu season. Eight of those patients ended up being hospitalized.
Local health officials are urging Kenai Peninsula residents to get their flu shots as all of the reported cases were influenza A which is covered by this year’s vaccine.
Infection control nurse Dana McDonald said the cases that had been confirmed were lab-identified, though not all of them care from patients at the hospital. “Some were emergency or outpatient,” she said.
The outpatient clinics in the area have their own testing regimes and may have seen cases that have not been reported to the hospital, she said.
Statewide, just over 470 people have tested positive for the flu, according to Alaska Division of Public Health weekly reports, the vast majority of cases have been Type A influenza. While the number of people who have tested positive for the flu is unusual for this time of the season, McDonald said, it won’t be clear until after the season if the number of reported cases is higher than normal.
“It usually peaks in December,” she said. “Who knows, this maybe our spike, or peak or then again, maybe it’s leading up to December being our peak.”
The patients who are being treated at CPH are getting Tamiflu, but McDonald said prevention was still key to flu-fighting efforts.
McDonald oversees infectious disease-bearing patients who are admitted to the hospital and works to keep healthcare workers from contracting the illness as they treat it.
To keep from contracting the disease, McDonald said covering coughs and washing hands were important but also said people should avoid public places while ill.
“The biggest thing that people can do to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated,” she said.