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(With this opening column, it is only appropriate to give gratitude to the owner, publisher editor, and all staff of The Voice for dedicating space for Healthcare Matters. It is my intent to provide the readers with some insight on healthcare issues affecting our community so that we may all be better informed. As the owner of Appalachian Family Care, I will incorporate current presentations we encounter at the clinic so that readers will know what ailments are most prevalent in our community while focusing on preventive measures to promote a healthier state.)
Respiratory viruses on the rise locally
Each winter brings its own challenges to healthcare. Certain viruses and bacterial infections are more prevalent and have a greater transmissibility during these months. Currently, we are encountering an earlier than normal surge in flu cases as well as increased positivity rates for RSV and continued Covid. Many are calling this season a triple threat as we are continuing to diagnose the pandemic virus but also large amounts of flu and RSV. Collectively. these three viruses will strain our health systems. If you have not taken appropriate measures to protect yourself, family, and community, I urge you to do so. The influenza and covid vaccines are widely available at most, if not all, local healthcare facilities.
Covid has strained our healthcare resources to the max, and now with increased incidences of additional upper respiratory ailments, our systems will be stressed again this season. Between the years 2010-2020, the CDC attributed 52,000 deaths to the flu and 710,000 hospitalizations. Annually, the RSV is attributed to 80,000 hospitalizations in those younger than five years of age with up to 300 deaths in that age group. The RSV causes up to 120,000 hospitalizations annually in adults 65 years and older with 10,000 deaths in this group. At our clinic, we are also diagnosing the parainfluenza virus by PCR testing. This is the virus responsible for the development of “croup”. Additionally, we continue to confirm via PCR testing the prevalence of rhinovirus or “common cold.”
In closing I would like to make special note to the mere fact that with all five of the aforementioned being viruses, antibiotics are not warranted when one is not infected with a secondary bacterial infection. We have a huge urge in healthcare to practice antibiotic stewardship as we are at the forefront of an era when antibiotics may not be effective at treating common bacterial infections. This is attributed to years and years of overuse and overprescribing of antibiotics. With that said an emphasis remains on those preventive measures to prevent the spread. One should distance 6 feet to prevent droplets from being passed with sneezing, coughing or talking. An infected individual will be contagious before symptoms are present. Additionally, a mask is recommended when indoors especially if the 6 feet distance can’t be maintained.
As always, speak to the healthcare provider about your specific situation or presentation who knows you best to better know what individualized recommendations and provisions you should make to prevent the spread or becoming infected. Take Due Notice and Guard Yourself Accordingly. Guarding yourself will shield your loved ones and aid in the prevention of overextending our precious healthcare infrastructure during the forthcoming holiday season.
After all, as Ben Franklin advised, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”