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The original item was published from 1/7/2014 8:17:00 AM to 1/3/2015 12:05:05 AM.

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Posted on: January 2, 2014

[ARCHIVED] HIDALGO COUNTY UPDATE ON INFLUENZA & H1N1

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Hidalgo County officials held a press conference on Thursday, January 2, 2014 at the Hidalgo County Judge's Office in Edinburg,Texas, to provide the latest updates regarding influenza and H1N1 to the media and the public, and to discuss what efforts the County is making to help curb the spread of the illness among residents. In attendance were Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia, Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Chief Administrator Eddie Olivarez, and Hidalgo County Emergency Management Coordinator Oscar Montoya.

According to the Influenza Surveillance Program conducted by the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department, Hidalgo County has 24 confirmed cases of Influenza A- H1N1 as of January 2, 2014. There has been 1 pediatric influenza death and 5 confirmed adult fatalities related to H1N1 to Type A Influenza. All fatalities had pre-existing conditions which were further complicated by the onset of the virus.

Seasonal influenza is not a reportable condition in the state of Texas; local health departments do not receive reported cases of influenza. Influenza-associated pediatric (individuals under the age of 18) mortality cases are reportable, but these occur in very rare instances. As a result, counts are estimates and are nearly impossible to track on a regular basis. Hidalgo County is conducting active surveillance but the numbers are estimates because it is not a reportable illness.

Therefore, the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department places its emphasis on educating the public on the importance of prevention. “Hidalgo County’s message is one of prevention; when looking at influenza, prevention is the key to protection for yourself and others,” said Olivarez. Hidalgo County urges resident to protect themselves and prevent the flu by getting the flu shot. The flu shot is available to those 6 months and older, and in variations to accommodate age, allergies, and other conditions.

Olivarez also urged County residents to practice the 4 C’s:
1. Clean and wash your hands2. Cover your cough and sneeze
3. Contain yourself, and stay home if sick 4. Consult your physician, and seek medical attention if ill

Peak rates of occurrence of the illness take place between December and mid-February, and there is still time for residents, especially those with pre-existing conditions and lower immune systems, to vaccinate and protect themselves and their families against the illness. Flu shots can be obtained at local physician offices, pharmacies, and the Hidalgo County health clinics; the cost for shots ranges from $15 - $35.

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