The New Mexico Department of Health reports the first laboratory confirmed cases of influenza (better known as flu) of the 2019-20 season. All five cases are adults; three cases reside in Sandoval County, with one in Santa Fe County — and there has been one fatal case in Bernalillo County where the 90-year-old patient died.
“Flu can be fatal if left untreated or if a person – at any age – has a weakened immune system,” said NMDOH Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “Getting your flu vaccination every year is the single best way to protect you, your family, and our state’s most vulnerable residents, from infants to the elderly.
The Department of Health recommends that everyone six months of age and older get flu vaccine each flu season, especially people in the following groups because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications, or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- Pregnant women (all trimesters), and up to two weeks post-partum
- People ages 65 years and older
- People of any age with medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and those who are immunocompromised
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including healthcare personnel and caregivers of babies younger than six months
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives
- People who are morbidly obese
People in these groups should also consider seeing their healthcare provider as early as possible to be evaluated for antiviral medication if they develop flu symptoms because the sooner that these medications are begun, the better the chance of preventing serious complications. People who have the flu may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Remember that to avoid catching the flu or passing it on to others, everyone should wash their hands frequently, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and stay home when ill.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations: healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, hospitals, and—later this month–NMDOH public health offices, as well in some worksites and schools. The New Mexico Department of Health encourages those with health insurance to contact their healthcare provider or pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine. NMDOH offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who go to their local Public Health Offices are asked to bring their insurance card.
You can find more information about flu and flu vaccines at the Department of Health influenza webpage (nmhealth.org) or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information page at: cdc.gov/flu/about/season/current.htm.