Idaho and Delaware are the only two states in the country with low to minimal levels of influenza activity as of Jan. 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That said, the flu is widespread throughout the state, with 12 deaths confirmed from flu-related causes thus far in the 2019-20 flu season, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
Those deaths included two women in northern Idaho, both over 70, two children (one in northern Idaho and the other in eastern Idaho) and one person in Health District 5, which includes Blaine County, described as at least 50 years old. The number of influenza cases in Blaine County is not reportable because tracking the flu in Idaho is voluntary for providers, according to Health and Welfare.
Nationally, the CDC estimates there have been at least 15 million flu illnesses this season with 140,000 hospitalizations and 8,200 deaths, including 54 pediatric deaths, from flu-related causes.
Flu vaccines are still available throughout the county, and for those with insurance, are usually free with a zero copay.
The coronavirus has reached four states as of Tuesday—Washington, Illinois, California and Arizona.
“CDC is leaning forward with an aggressive public health response strategy and working closely with state and local public health authorities to identify potential cases early and make sure patients get the best and most appropriate care,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a press release Sunday.
The novel virus reportedly began in Wuhan, a city of about 11 million people, in the Hubei Province of China around the end of December, in a large seafood and animal market, according to the CDC. The report suggested an animal-to-person spread, but a growing number of patients reported having no exposure to animal markets, indicating that person-to-person spread is occurring.
Symptoms include mild to severe fever, cough and or shortness of breath. According to the CDC, symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure, and anyone who has been in China within the past two weeks and develops symptoms should call a doctor immediately.
More than 1,000 cases of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed in China with 106 confirmed deaths from the virus as of Tuesday. The virus has spread to 17 countries, including the U.S. There have been no deaths outside of China.
The CDC has been proactive in preparing for the introduction of 2019-nCoV in the U.S. since Jan. 8, when it began alerting clinicians to be on the lookout for patients with respiratory symptoms and a history of travel to Wuhan, China. On Jan. 17, the CDC began implementing public health screenings at the San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles airports and expanded the following week to screenings at airports in Atlanta and Chicago.
The first case of the virus in the U.S. was confirmed in Washington state on Jan. 21. The second was confirmed on Jan. 24 in Chicago, with subsequent cases confirmed in California and Arizona as of Monday. As of Tuesday, 73 people in 26 states were under investigation in the U.S. for the virus and their results had not yet been confirmed.
According to the CDC, there is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus by washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you are sick, cover your cough or sneeze and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
“We are monitoring the activity that is occurring with coronavirus and are prepared to respond if we have a suspect or confirmed case in our area,” Public Health Program Manager for the South Central Public Health District Tanis Maxwell said in an email to the Mountain Express on Monday.
Maxwell said the public health districts train for situations such as this and have protocols in place to protect communities and to respond quickly in the event of a suspected or confirmed case.