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Viruses bugging local residents

Flu spike could still hit Auburn, doctor says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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While viruses are floating around the local area, one doctor says the flu has yet to hit Auburn hard. “I myself have not been diagnosing influenza more (than normal) recently,” said Dr. Mark Vaughan, of Auburn Medical Group. “I do believe I have still been seeing cases … of what looks to be pertussis. For influenza … we have seen a few cases.” According to Al Lundeen, spokesman for the California Department of Public Health, the state is seeing an increase in influenza with cases in Northern and Southern California. The cases are currently hitting specific regions of the state. According to Lundeen cases of the flu increase in the first three months of the year, and every year more than 225,000 people are hospitalized and more than 35,000 die in the United States because of the flu or related complications. Vaughan said although influenza doesn’t seem to be prevalent currently in the Auburn area, he has seen several other viruses. “(I have diagnosed) other things, colds, and what is often confused for flu: gastroenteritis,” Vaughan said. Vaughan said although gastroenteritis is commonly known as the stomach flu, it is not related to influenza, and true flu symptoms do not include vomiting or diarrhea. Vaughan said some of the things residents might be confusing as influenza are the rotavirus and Norwalk virus. Colfax resident John Frazer visited Vaughan Tuesday afternoon for an ongoing cough that he has had for about a month. “Bottom line is it’s a cough at nighttime and in the morning, and once you get started it’s hard to stop coughing,” Frazer said. “It’s a little pressure in the chest with a little congestion, and it’s hanging on. (It’s been going on) about three weeks to a month now, and (in the past) I have been one of those fortunate people who don’t get sick.” Frazer said when his co-workers started getting sick this season he didn’t think much of it. “Everybody where I work was getting sick, but I thought, ‘I don’t get sick,’ he said. “‘Then I got the cough, and I thought I’ll just get a little rest and I’ll be fine.’” Frazer said once he gets started with his day he doesn’t have trouble with the cough, but he is now taking medicine to try to get rid of it completely. “It takes a toll on your lungs, but other than that I feel fine,” he said. “(Dr. Vaughan) is calling it the 100-day cough, and he gave me some over-the-counter stuff to break up the mucus in my chest,” Frazer said. “And then for nighttime … he gave me some cough medicine. He also prescribed a chest X-ray, because he wants to make sure it’s not going to turn into pneumonia.” Several symptoms usually accompany influenza, including a sudden onset of body aches, high fever and headache, Vaughan said. “It is the sort of thing within an hour of the onset of your symptoms you are laying down because the symptoms hit you so hard,” Vaughan said. Vaughan said although the local area has not seen an outbreak of influenza this year, it could still happen. “We really have not seen influenza yet this year like we have in previous years when we have seen a huge spike,” he said. “It may still be coming.” Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health, said it’s important to fight the flu before getting it. “Flu has the potential to cause serious illness and even death,” Horton said. “But there is something people can do about it. I urge all Californians to get a flu shot and take other preventative measures to reduce exposure to influenza.” Vaughan said after a person’s contagious period passes he or she may still have a cough but won’t make others sick, because the cough is part of the virus that lingers until the airway heals itself. There are several things people can do to try to avoid getting sick or making others ill, including staying home when they are actively coughing and ill, Vaughan said. “We want to say the same thing we said last year … and that is wash hands, cover your mouth if you are coughing, preferably not with your hand,” he said. “I’m a proponent of coming up with greetings other than hand shaking. Giving a person a hug has less chance of giving people a virus … than shaking their hands.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Information about the flu Visit: Flu.gov at flu.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/flu/weekly/summary.htm and California Department of Public Health at cdph.ca.gov For information on where in Auburn to get a flu shot: Visit flu.gov/whereyoulive