Officials: Area not yet hit by flu

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

So far this fall, area doctors and medical officials are seeing patients for a variety of illnesses but they say the flu itself hasn’t hit eastern New Mexico.

“The flu season has not yet hit New Mexico,” said Chris Minnick, regional public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Health.

At the Portales Medical Clinic, patients are visiting the clinic for illnesses such as stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, nasal drainage, sore throats, coughing and earaches among other symptoms, said medical assistant Sharon Good.

“We’re mostly seeing strep, viral upper respiratory and gastroenteritis. These are the three main things. I don’t believe we’ve seen any true flu yet,” said David Jones, FCNP at the clinic.

Over at Roosevelt General Hospital, there have been no reports of patients with the flu. For the past three years, the hospital has conducted a survey tracking cases of the flu. For the first time this year, the survey was continued through the summer. So far patients are presenting with more cold-like symptoms, said Tersa Bonifant, with RGH’s office of infection control and employee health.

“At this point, we haven’t seen anything yet,” Bonifant said.

Typically flu season runs from December through March, though it could start at any time, Minnick said.

Minnick advised that individuals at high risk are encouraged to obtain a flu shot. Groups at risk include people over 50, residents of longterm care facilities, chronic healthcare providers, those with chronic health problems, healthcare workers and those who work with kids, Minnick said.

To help avoid catching the flu or passing it on to others, Minnick advises that when sneezing to cover your mouth and nose, stay home and avoid public places until you are well and to wash your hands often with warm water and soap, he said.

“Follow that advice that your mom gave you about keeping your hands clean,” Minnick said.

Where to get a flu shot

• Public Health Office, 1515 W. Fir, 356-4453, 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m., call ahead.

• Portales Medical Clinic, 320 S. Ave A, office hours, $25 each

• Roosevelt General Hospital, 41121 U.S. 70, today, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., $20