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David Morgan
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More Flu Deaths This Season

January 23, 2014 - Influenza Surveillance - Alert

The New Mexico Department of Health confirms more flu deaths for the 2013-2014 season. New deaths reported are a 79-year-old man and a 73-year -old man from Bernalillo County and a 45-year-old man from Rio Arriba County.

“Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the dangers and complications flu can cause,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “I’m also encouraging everyone to wash their hands frequently. Also, remember to sneeze or cough into your upper sleeve or elbow, rather than into your hand.”

If you do become sick, there are drugs that can be used to treat the flu. These drugs may lessen symptoms and may shorten the time you are sick. They also may prevent hospitalizations and flu complications, such as pneumonia and death. If you think you have the flu, your doctor can determine if you should receive antiviral drugs. These drugs work best if started within two days of being sick but may help even if not received right away.

The predominant circulating flu strain in New Mexico and the United States is influenza H1N1. This strain was first identified in 2009 and may cause severe illness even in healthy young adults. The New Mexico Department of Health is urging everyone 6 months of age and older to see their doctor or pharmacist about getting a flu vaccine. The vaccine is currently available and protects against H1N1 and other strains of flu.

The Department of Health has 29 providers statewide that report influenza-like illnesses (fever with cough or sore throat) from October through May. Providers that participate in this surveillance network reported that for the week ending January 18, 2014, 5.6% of their patient visits were for influenza-like illness.

Weekly Percentage of Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Outpatient Visits
by Public Health Region in New Mexico 2013-2014

Region Last Week This Week
Northwest 2.9% 3.5%
Northeast 2.1% 2.1%
Southwest 2.9% 3.1%
Southeast 12.6% 12.9%
Metro 8.0% 6.9%
Statewide 5.9% 5.6%

Influenza is a highly transmittable disease whose symptoms include sudden onset of fever, muscle pain, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (more common in children than adults.) These symptoms develop within a few days after exposure to the flu virus.

Influenza vaccination is recommended for:

  • All people over 6 months of age who are eligible for vaccination and especially;
  • Pregnant (any trimester) and post-partum women
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease
  • People who don’t have a normal immune system
  • 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
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who are morbidly obese
  • Healthcare personnel
  • People at high risk for serious flu complications, including children younger than 5 years and adults older than 65 years

The Department offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get immunized. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who come to Public Health Offices are asked to present their insurance card.

To find out more about Shot Clinics throughout New Mexico, you can call the Immunization Hotline toll free at 1-800-232-4636.

For more information about influenza, visit the Influenza Surveillance Program section of our website. You can also learn more about vaccinations from the Immunization Program section of our website.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.