Prevent the spread of cold and flu germs

December 20, 2011

Ten easy steps to keep you and others healthier this holiday season

Each year, millions of people suffer from a cold or flu, and this year is likely to be no different. Between 15 million and 61 million people in the United States will get the flu this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Temperature taking is a key indicator of flu patterns and should be taken seriously, according to Mary Pappas, the New York-area school nurse credited with first alerting officials about the H1N1 outbreak in 2009.

“The flu usually comes with a fever while the common cold does not, so taking your temperature is the easiest way to tell the difference,” she said.

A high or prolonged fever can be an indicator of when to seek medical attention, so it’s important to monitor your temperature on an ongoing basis when you are sick.

Pappas has been taking temperatures for nearly 30 years and, as a school nurse, takes as many as 50 per day. But whether it’s one temperature or 100, she maintains that the most important consideration is that it be accurate. While there are many types of thermometers available, Pappas favors the Exergen TemporalScanner because of its proven accuracy and ease-of-use; all it requires is a simple swipe across the forehead.

“Whether it’s a student at my school or a parent at home, I know taking a temperature can be a challenge, especially with young children who may be uncomfortable and fussy,” Pappas said. “What I love about the TemporalScanner is that it’s not invasive like an ear, rectal or oral thermometer. No matter what a student comes to see me for, I’m able to get an accurate reading. It’s so easy to use that you can take someone’s temperature even when they are sleeping and not disturb them.”

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Volunteers needed for Medical Reserve Corps

March 8, 2011

Medical and nonmedical volunteers with the Public Health Reserve Corps set up shop for a mock alternative care facility, a place where certified volunteers can triage patients during a natural disaster, medical emergency or attack. Contributed

How should Issaquah respond to an earthquake? A terrorist attack? A newly discovered and contagious flu?

Volunteers with the Issaquah Medical Reserve Corps will know how to set up an emergency triage station, vaccination clinic and respond to and treat the public. The same goes for the Public Health Reserve Corps, run by Public Health – Seattle & King County, only instead of staying in Issaquah, these volunteers help across the county in the case of an emergency.

“We do encourage people to cross register with Public Health Reserve Corps, so in case of a disaster where Issaquah is fine, we can go to other areas and help out,” said Brenda Bramwell, a volunteer for both the Issaquah and the Public Health Reserve Corps.

The Medical Reserve Corps movement began in the aftermath of Sept. 11.

In the turmoil following the attacks, regular citizens wanted to help, especially those who were medically trained. At the time, there was no standard way for them to organize, and no way for victims to know if the do-gooders had proper credentials.

In President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address, he asked Americans to volunteer in support of their country. Shortly after, the government formed the Office of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps, with chapters for the organization forming at state and local levels.

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Nisqually earthquake anniversary jolts memories

February 22, 2011

Issaquah is more prepared now than during 2001 roller

Then-Skyline High School senior Sean Edwards (left) and then-4-year-old sister Quinn leaned over to look inside the cracked asphalt Feb. 28, 2001, as dad Maury looks along a crack in the 1400 block of East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. File

The ground started to shake as Bret Heath stood upstairs at the old municipal public works office — the steel-frame and metal-clad structure used nowadays as the parks department maintenance facility — and in seconds, the building rolled, like a ship tossed on ocean swells.

“I remember thinking, ‘I wonder if this building is going to hold together,’” the longtime Public Works Operations and emergency management director said.

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Department of Health aims to create flu-free ‘WashYourHandsingTon’

December 26, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 26, 2010

The state Department of Health urges residents to journey to “WashYourHandsingTon” as the traditional flu season starts.

In “WashYourHandsingTon,” everyone remembers to cover coughs, wash hands and receive a flu vaccine. The campaign is part of a statewide effort to remind residents to prevent the spread of flu.

“We use a fun approach to get people’s attention, and then remind them that flu is serious and getting vaccinated will keep you well,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “We want Washington to be the state where people ‘give high-fivers, not high fevers!'”

The campaign includes a YouTube video, radio ads, bus cards and billboards.

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Flu shot protects against three strains

October 12, 2010

This year’s flu shot protects against three types of influenza: the H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and H1N1, also known as swine flu.

Flu shots combining vaccinations are not uncommon, said Virginia Mason Issaquah primary care doctor Ted Naiman, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marjorie Eikenberry (left), of Timber Ridge, prepares to receive her flu shot at Virginia Mason’s Issaquah clinic from Maxim Healthcare’s Delnaz Pithawalla, a registered nurse, as Eikenberry’s husband of 63 years, Ralph (background), receives his. By Greg Farrar

“Every year, it’s got multiple different ingredients,” he said. “Basically, what the CDC does is they look at the strains of influenzas the year before that made people the sickest and killed the most people, and they use those to make the next year’s vaccine.”

Influenza, a respiratory illness, can cause a multitude of symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, fatigue or vomiting.

Most people recover in two weeks, but sometimes the disease has complications leading to pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections.

Every year, between 5 percent and 20 percent of people get the flu, according to the CDC.

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Mascots rally King County residents to beat flu

February 28, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Feb. 28, 2010

Local mascots have joined forces to encourage King County residents to get vaccinated against the flu, and take steps to prevent the spread of the disease.

Public Health – Seattle & King County developed the 30-second public-service announcement. The stars include Harry the Husky, the Ivar’s Dancing Clam, the Seattle Seahawks’ Blitz, the Seattle Storm’s Doppler, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ Cool Bird and the Mariners’ Moose.

Ivar’s Dancing Clam and the Mariners' Moose show you how to beat the flu.

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Public Health – Seattle & King County will offer free H1N1 vaccine Saturday

January 8, 2010

NEW — 6:35 p.m. Jan. 8, 2010

Jan. 10-16 is National Influenza Vaccination Week. King County public health officials will mark the event by offering the H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine to people unable to pay.

Public Health – Seattle & King County officials said more than 600,000 people countywide received the vaccination. But many people do not yet have immunity to the virus and remain at risk. With more vaccine available, officials said now would be a good time for anyone 6 months or older to receive the vaccine.

About 757,000 doses of the vaccine had been received in King County by this week. H1N1 vaccine is available through many healthcare providers and local pharmacies. Learn more about vaccine availability here.

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Seasonal flu shots offered at Rite Aid

December 19, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. Dec. 19, 2009

The Rite Aid at the Pine Lake Village Shopping Center, in Sammamish, is still offering regular, seasonal flu vaccines.

Walk-in patients wishing to be immunized are advised to call the pharmacy first to ensure a certified immunizing pharmacist will be available at the desired time.

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Providers will offer free swine flu vaccinations Saturday

December 17, 2009

NEW — 12:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 2009

King County public health officials expect H1N1 flu, or swine flu, to spread. Public Health – Seattle & King County officials encourage people to get vaccinated. Starting Saturday, providers will offer another round of free vaccines for people unable to pay.

The vaccine is now available to everyone in King County older than 6 months. Officials recommend the vaccine most for pregnant women, people who live with or care for children younger than 6, people between the ages of 6 months and 24 years, people between 25 through 64 with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems, and healthcare and emergency workers.

H1N1 vaccine is distributed to many health care providers and local pharmacies. Find pharmacy locations here, or call the Flu Hotline, 877-903-5464.

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King County will widen swine flu vaccine availability

December 9, 2009

UPDATED — 3:27 p.m. Dec. 9, 2009

King County public health officials will offer the H1N1, or swine flu, vaccine to everyone in the county 6 months and older, starting Saturday.

Public Health – Seattle & King County will widen eligibility because many health care providers in King County said they are able to meet the demand for high-risk patients. Moreover, vaccine supplies are increasing and expected to continue to rise.

But officials cautioned that supplies could be limited at some locations if demand is strong. Check the availability at pharmacies here.

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