The following is a press release issued by Mendocino County Public Health:
Now that we have made it through the summer heat, it is time to think of this fall’s seasonal respiratory diseases. We used to call it the Flu Season, and it still is. But we know many other germs cause respiratory symptoms. Most are mild. But some may be more severe and, for some, even life-threatening.
What is happening now?
Many people are reporting increased COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks. There have been more COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Wastewater surveillance shows an increase in COVID-19 detections around the state. This increase was predicted and is now confirmed. This is not an emergency because of the increase in immunity from vaccines and prior illness. We have the tools to care for ourselves with vaccines and medicines.
Some uncertainty about the future still exists. New variants are circulating. We have not seen any significant spikes in cases or hospitalizations in the U.S. or global communities where these variants were found. The current and upcoming monovalent vaccines and treatments should be very effective.
How do we prepare?
Influenza season usually starts in October, and RSV peaks in the fall/winter. Last year, we saw COVID-19 surge at the same time as Influenza and RSV seasonal surges, which threatened our healthcare system.
- Get the Influenza vaccine at the Department of Public Health Clinics or your healthcare provider’s office. Covid Vaccinations have been updated and should be available in the next week or so. These are recommended for everyone over 6 months old. RSV (Respiratory Syncitial Virus) is another respiratory virus that is most severe in older adults and infants. The CDC has approved and recommended the new RSV for those over 60 years old. The FDA has approved a vaccine for women from 32 through 36 week of pregnancy that will protect newborns for the first 6 months. These should be available at your pharmacy.
- Increase ventilation by staying outside (unless there is a lot of smoke or other pollution.) When inside, keep windows and doors open when you can, or use an air conditioner, filter, or fan. Wear a mask (preferably an N95 type) indoors if you or someone you live or work with may be immune compromised. It is not 100% effective but helps. Wash your hands and utensils with soap and water to prevent spreading germs.
- If you are sick, stay home, and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible. Over-the-counter tests are advised. If you test negative but have symptoms or were a close contact, re-test in 48 hours to be sure. Wear a mask to protect others until you are sure, or 10 days have passed.
- If a COVID-19 test is positive and you are moderately sick, ask your provider for a very
effective treatment to decrease the duration, severity, contagion, and risk of long Covid.
- Earaches or sinus headaches that continue or progress may indicate an infection that may benefit from an antibiotic. Aches can be treated with acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories. Stay hydrated. Drink clear liquids if nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea occur.
- Call your health care provider if your symptoms are severe, worsen or persist for more than 7 days.