Flu diagnosis could prove challenging

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 7:23 PM EDT
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Next week marks National Infectious Diseases Week. In this week’s Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty speaks with a specialist about the flu and tips to stay healthy this season.

As the pandemic continues, health care officials urge you to wash your hands often, social distance, and wear masks. Julie Tutt, Manager of Quality and Infection Prevention with Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, says keep in mind, some masks offer better protection than others.

“I see a lot of people wearing these masks with these exhalation valves, and the one thing I think that people don’t often realize, is they have these valves that actually is a - an exit point for viral particles to escape. So it’s not actually recommended by CDC to wear these masks,” says Julie Tutt.

Unless you wear a mask properly, Tutt says it defeats the purpose.

“You see a lot of people that wear it just below the nose, or sometimes you see it even barely covering their mouth. But yes, it definitely has to be worn above the - above the nose and the mouth,” says Tutt.

Tutt says there’ve already been reported cases of the flu, with more expected as the season progresses. She says diagnosing the flu will be particularly difficult this year, due to the similarities with Covid-19.

“They are very similar and that’s - that’s what’s tough here. It’s gonna make for a tough winter for us, because they’re both respiratory illnesses. Both can cause high fevers; they can, you know, cause a cough, shortness of breath. So really the most important thing to do is consult with your provider and see if they deem it would be great for you to have a test,” says Tutt.

Flu clinics have begun throughout The County. With Covid a factor this year, if you haven’t gotten one, Tutt strongly urges you consider doing so - especially the elderly and those with health conditions that put them at higher risk.

Copyright 2020 WAGM. All rights reserved.

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