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Home News Doctor Visits for Flu Are Decreasing
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
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Doctor Visits for Flu Are Decreasing

January 30, 2014 - Immunization - Vaccination

The New Mexico Department of Health reports a decrease in people seeing their doctor for influenza-like illness. However, another flu death occurred in the 2013-2014 season. The new death reported is a 69-year-old woman from Bernalillo County. So far five influenza deaths ranging from 45 to 79 years old have been reported in New Mexico this season. Influenza-like illness has decreased over the past three weeks from a peak of 7.0% during the week ending January 4, 2014 to 4.6% for the week ending January 25, 2014.

Over half (52.9%) of all hospitalizations were in persons aged 18-64 years old. Persons 18-49 years old accounted for 27.1% of hospitalized flu cases, those 50-64 years old, 25.8%, and those 65 years and older, 26.6%. Children up to four years of age accounted for 16.2% and children 5-17 years of age, 4.4%.

“As long as we have flu circulating in New Mexico, it is not too late to get vaccinated,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “All New Mexicans also can help prevent the flu and other illness by everyday actions, including washing hands with soap and water.”

If a person does become ill due to the flu, there are medications that can be used to treat the flu. These antiviral medications may lessen symptoms and may shorten the time a person is ill. They also may prevent hospitalizations and flu complications, such as pneumonia and death. If someone thinks they have the flu, their doctor can determine if they should receive antiviral medications. These medications 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 25, 2014, 4.6% of their patient visits were for influenza-like illness.

Four regions showed a decrease in ILI for this week compared to last week.

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

Region Last Week This Week
Northwest 3.5% 3.6%
Northeast 2.1% 1.6%
Southwest 3.1% 2.7%
Southeast 12.9% 11.2%
Metro 6.9% 5.9%
Statewide 5.6% 4.6%

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.