PMH Rural Clinic’s Dr. Hare Talks about the Seasonal Viruses Stalking Us –Part 1
Feeling Ill lately? Well, you, like many of the rest of us might be suffering from what’s going around – The Flu or the Respiratory Syncytial Virus – known to its victims and fans simply as RSV.
To learn more about these little unwelcome visitors, we talked with Dr. Julie Hare from the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital’s Rural Health Clinic. Dr. Hare starts by letting us know about the current flu that’s working its way among us.
“A good place to start out is to talk about flu this season – this season, the 2016-2017 season” says Dr. Hare. “As of this month, every state in the country has actually reported flu. So we definitely are seeing a more significant flu season this year than we did last year. And that’s definitely attributable to the cooler weather we are having currently – I am sure everybody remembers it was pretty warm last year. We are seeing a lot of flu A. As a lot of people know, flu A and flu B are fairly different viruses. They are in the same influenza family, but they’re designated different. A lot of people know about Flu A because they are designated by ‘H’ and ‘N’. Everybody remembers the Swine flu epidemic about six years ago. We had the H1N1 flu virus, and that was responsible for Swine Flu, and also a hundred years ago the Spanish Flu Epidemic. So, of course, we always see a little bit of that ever present in the population worldwide. This year, though, it is primarily H3N2 and that is being covered by the flu vaccine this year.”
What are the symptoms of this year’s model of the flu?
“In general, the course of flu onset is usually multi-symptom” says Dr. Hare. “So you get fevers, chills, sore throat, Sinusitis, headaches, fatigue, coughing, a lot of chest involvement, lung involvement with influenza. Small children will be irritable. So that’s kind of flu in a nutshell. A lot of people will wonder if they have flu when they get a head cold or something like that. And they are generally not typical of flu, again, it affects the while body.”
Well, now we know that this year’s flu vaccine seems to be working against the H3N2 flu that is hitting us hard right now. The good news is it’s not too late to get vaccinated if you haven’t already caught the flu (or maybe it would be better to say “if the flu hasn’t already caught you.)
How about that other nasty crud that stuffs our sinuses, gives us headaches and makes us cough instead of sleeping all night? Dr. Hare explains that one too.
The other virus that we are seeing a lot of –that comes around every year this time of year, is something called Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and that effects everyone, children and adults” Dr. Hare says. “We abbreviate it, we call it RSV. RSV is something that we really pay attention to because it can severely impact very young children under the age of five but especially under the age of two and much older people. In an adult it would just manifest as a bad head cold basically, with a really runny nose, the sinus pressure, maybe a little bit of fever, and not feeling great. In kids it can cause respiratory distress, especially in children and adults who have already existing respiratory illnesses like COPD and Asthma. Those are the people we get pretty excited about. RSV specifically affects the tiny end airways of your lungs and causes a lot of inflammation and so it can shut down somebody’s breathing. So if you have a little kid who’s had a bad cold, fever, runny nose, you do want to watch them. Just kind of watch their breathing, watch their effort of breathing. Especially small babies who don’t want to eat , and those are the kids that we really should see in the clinic.”
Be sure to listen to Allegheny Mountain Radio for part 2 of this story where Dr. Hare will talk about how long we can expect the flu and the RSV virus to hang around making our lives miserable; what the treatment options are and how you can best avoid getting them, especially if someone close to you already has one of these viruses. She also answers my question -can you get both the flu and RSV at the same time and she gives us additional information about these viruses.