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FIGHTING THE FLU | Friday, November 9, 2012

IDPH urges Iowans to get vaccinated The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) urges all Iowans over six months of age to receive their yearly seasonal influenza vaccine. Surveillance by IDPH influenza sentinel sites and confirmatory testing by the State Hygienic Laboratory shows the flu is circulating in Iowa, and appears to be particularly spreading among children. “Children are known as ‘super spreaders’ because they are often in close contact with others at schools or daycare, and when ill, can quickly spread the illness to others,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. While the flu vaccine is the best defense against getting influenza, it’s also important to take personal actions to help prevent the spread of illness. Remember the 3Cs:

According to the IDPH, flu is circulating in Iowa, and appears to be particularly spreading among children. Families should plan to be vaccinated now.

cover your coughs and sneezes; clean your hands frequently; and contain germs by staying home when ill. The flu is a respiratory

illness caused by viruses. The flu comes on suddenly and symptoms may include fever, headache, tiredness, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion,

and body aches. Illness typically lasts two to seven days. Influenza may cause severe illness or even death in people such as the very young or very old, or

those who have underlying health conditions. Influenza is not a ‘reportable disease’ in Iowa, which means doctors are not required to notify IDPH each time a patient tests positive for influenza; however, IDPH conducts year-round influenza surveillance through the Iowa Influenza Surveillance Network. This surveillance indicates what types of influenza viruses are circulating and how widespread influenza illness is. For more information about where and what kind of influenza is in Iowa, go to /Influenza.aspx?pg=FluHo me. Contact your health care provider or local health department to find out where the vaccine is available in your community or use the Flu Vaccine Finder at

Flu shots, flu mist at public health office Flu shots and flu mist is available at Crawford County Home Health, Hospice & Public Health for children who do not have insurance or for those with Medicaid at no cost with a recommended donation of $10. The office is located at 105 North Main Avenue, Denison. The next clinic is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 15. Flu shots are available to people with Medicare part B at no cost and to anyone else at a cost of $20. No appointment necessary. Individuals should call Crawford County Home Health, Hospice & Public Health at 712-263-3303 with any questions regarding the flu or a flu shot.

The facts about influenza From the Iowa Department of Public Health Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that affects mainly the nose, throat, chest and lungs. The flu may cause mild to severe illness, and may even lead to death. In the very young, the elderly, and those with other serious medical conditions, infection can lead to severe complications such as pneumonia. Symptoms of influenza include: Š Fever (typically at or greater than 100° F) Š Headache Š Extreme tiredness Š Dry cough Š Sore throat Š Runny or stuffy nose Š Muscle aches Š Stomach symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, also can occur but are more common in children than adults In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include: Š Fast breathing or trouble breathing Š Bluish skin color Š Not drinking enough fluids Š Not waking up or not interacting Š Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held Š Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough Š Fever with a rash Flu viruses mainly spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose. Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get vacci-

nated each year. There are two types of vaccines: Š The “flu” shot- an inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle. The flu shot is approved for use in people six months of age and older, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. Š The nasal-spray flu vaccine (FluMist) - a vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. Nasal mist is approved for use in healthy people two to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. About two weeks after vaccination, antibodies develop that protect against influenza virus infection. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses. If you get the flu: Š Stay home from work or school Š Make sure and get plenty of rest and water Š Over-the-counter medications may relieve symptoms Š Consult your doctor The influenza virus changes every year as it makes its way around the world. Since the exact flu viruses are almost never the same from year to year, the strains of influenza in the vaccine changes each year. This is why you need to get a new flu vaccine every year. The vaccine only protects you from influenza for one year. Yearly flu vaccination should begin as soon as the vaccine becomes available, usually early in the fall. This will provide protection for the entire flu season. Yearly flu vaccination is recommended for all persons six months of age and older, and is especially important for those people at high risk for developing flu-related complications, such as children younger than five; adults 65 years of age and older; pregnant women; and people with certain medical conditions like heart and lung problems, and diabetes. Vaccination with the nasal spray flu vaccine (FluMist) is an option for healthy people two to 49 years of age who are not pregnant, even healthy persons who live with or care for those in a high risk group. The one exception is healthy persons who care for persons with severely weakened immune systems who require a protected environment; these healthy persons should get

Symptoms of influenza include a runny or stuffy nose.

the inactivated vaccine. Influenza antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid, or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. Antiviral drugs can make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. This could be especially important for people at high risk. These medications are only effective if started within 48 hours after symptoms start. Influenza antiviral medication may also be used to prevent sickness in people who have been exposed to someone with influenza.



NOVEMBER 9, 2012

Young adults should vaccinate Stress about school, work, roommates or even social life can really bring you down. But so can a prolonged serious illness, as can happen with the flu. The flu is unpredictable, and can affect us when we least expect it. If you or your friends get the flu, the results could be missed classes, missed work, or far worse--trips to the ER, hospitalization, and even death. Even if you are generally a healthy person, you can get sick from the flu. You can also spread the virus to others, even before showing any symptoms. Keep in mind that if you have certain long-term medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes (type 1 or type 2), even when well-managed, you are considered to be at high risk for flu complications. The flu can lead to complications such as pneumonia and bronchitis and can make chronic health problems worse. Luckily, protecting yourself from the flu is easy. The first step: get a flu vaccine. An annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older and is especially important for those at high risk for flu

complications. Even if you were vaccinated against the flu last season, you still need a flu vaccine this season because immunity from vaccination declines over time. You have several options when it comes to the type of vaccine to get and where to get it. A regular flu shot is approved for most people ages six months and older. The new intradermal flu shot - which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle using a much smaller needle - is approved for most people 18 to 64 years of age. The nasal spray vaccine is approved for use in healthy people, two through 49 years of age, who are not pregnant. Getting vaccinated is more convenient than ever to get a flu vaccine. Most pharmacies, drugstores, and supermarkets offer walk-in clinics that are usually very quick and have convenient hours. If you’re in school, most university clinics offer their students flu vaccines for free, or at a reduced price. But the longer you wait, the more you increase your chances of getting the flu. Contrary to urban legend,

the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. Very mild flu-like symptoms after vaccination can mean that your body is responding to vaccination. If you actually get the flu soon after vaccination, you may have been exposed to flu before getting vaccinated, or during the two-week period it takes the body to gain protection after getting vaccinated. Flu-like symptoms also can be the result of non-influenza illness with similar symptoms like rhinovirus (common cold) or other viruses or bacteria that share flu symptoms. The few minutes it will take you to get a flu vaccine is much shorter than the days you might have to take off from school and/or work if you get sick with the flu. It’s important to get your vaccine early, to be fully protected by the time flu outbreaks really pick up. By protecting yourself with a flu vaccine, you’ll help protect your family, friends, classmates, and co-workers, too. And that’s even better than “friending” them on your favorite social networking site. For more information, visit, or call 800-232-4636.

Drink clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated. Chicken soup is always a favorite option.

Treating your flu provides the following information on treatment for the flu. If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should stay home and follow your health care provider’s recommendations. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications to ease flu symptoms and help you feel better faster. You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication. Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious. Your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications to make your illness milder and prevent serious complications. Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if your flu has progressed to a bacterial infection. You can treat flu symptoms without medication by: Š Getting plenty of rest Š Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated Š Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever Š Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier

Š Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat Š Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills Decongestants can ease discomfort from stuffy noses, sinuses, ears, and chests. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which kind is right for you. Cough medicine, cough drops, and throat lozenges can temporarily relieve coughing and sore throat. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about which kind is right for you. Fevers and aches can be treated with a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, for example), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) (Aleve).If you have kidney disease or stomach problems, check with your health care provider before taking any NSAIDS. Many over-the-counter medications contain the same active ingredients. If you take several medicines with the same active ingredient you might be taking more than the recommended dose. This can cause serious health problems. Read all labels carefully. If you are taking overthe-counter or prescription medications not related to the flu, talk to your health care provider or pharma-

cist about which cold and flu medications are safe for you. Antiviral medications are prescription pills, liquids, or inhalers used to prevent or treat flu viruses. They are approved for adults and children one year and older. Four antiviral drugs are approved for treating the flu in the United States— oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), amantadine (generic), and rimantadine (Flumadine). If you get the flu, antiviral medications can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious complications from the flu. Antiviral medications work best when started within the first two days of getting sick. If you are exposed to the flu, antiviral medication can prevent you from becoming sick. Talk to your health care provider if you have been or may be near a person with the flu. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. They are not effective against viral infections like the flu. Some people have bacterial infections along with or caused by the flu and will need to take antibiotics. Severe or prolonged illness or illness that seems to get better but then gets worse may be a sign of bacterial infection. Contact your health care provider if you think you need antibiotics.

NOVEMBER 9, 2012



Caring for someone with the flu, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, offers the following information on caring for someone who has the influenza. Keep the sick person comfortable and follow the recommendations of his or her health care provider. Keep others in the home healthy by washing hands and household surfaces frequently. Ensure the sick person takes all medications as directed. Put the sick person in a separate space from other members of the household. Everyone in the home, including the sick person, should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently. Get immediate medical care if the sick person experiences: Š Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath Š Purple or blue discoloration of the lips Š Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen Š Sudden dizziness Š Confusion Š Severe or persistent vomiting Š Seizures Š Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough To keep yourself and others in the home from getting sick: Š Keep the sick person away from other people as much as possible, especially those who are at high risk of complications from the flu. You can do this in your home by creating a sick room. Š Keep the sick person in a room away from common areas of the house. Š If you have more than one bathroom, have the sick person use one and well people use the other. Š Clean the sick room and bathroom daily with household disinfectant. Š The sick person should not have visitors other than care-

givers. An email, text message, or phone call is safer than a visit. Additional steps can be taken to protect yourself and people in your home from getting the flu. The caregiver and all healthy people in the house should clean their hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub frequently, including after every contact with the sick person, the sick person’s room or bathroom, or items used or touched by the sick person. Remind the sick person to cover coughs and clean his or her hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after coughing or sneezing. Avoid being face-to-face with the sick person and, if possible, have only one adult in the home take care of the sick person. People at increased risk of severe illness from flu should not care for the sick person. Hold small children who are sick with their chin on your shoulder so that they will not cough in your face. Ask your healthcare provider if well people in your home - particularly those contacts who are at increased risk of severe illness - should take antiviral medications to prevent getting the flu. Maintain good ventilation in shared household areas (keep windows open in restrooms, kitchen, bathroom, etc.). Follow proper cleaning and disposal procedures: Š Throw the sick person’s tissues and other used disposable items in the trash. Š Keep surfaces clean (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, doorknobs, phones, and children’s toys) by wiping them down with an approved household disinfectant. Š Clean linens, eating utensils, and dishes used by the sick person thoroughly before reusing. You do not need to wash items separately. Š Wash linens (such as bed sheets and towels) with laundry soap and tumble dry on a hot setting. Avoid “hugging” laundry to your body before washing it to prevent contaminating yourself.

Caring for someone with the flu is tricky, but gives helpful advice.

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Fighting the Flu  

Fighting the Flu