First influenza cases confirmed

CNJ staff

The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed the first six cases of the flu season, one of which was a Curry County toddler, according to a press release.

Health Department spokesman Chris Minnick said the cases were non-fatal but marked the onset of flu season in the state and serve as a reminder to residents to receive flu vaccinations.

“It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Just because flu season is here, doesn’t mean you’ve missed the boat by any means,” Minnick said.

The cases, which health officials have determined were influenza A and B types, are likely good matches for the 2008-2009 influenza vaccine, the release said.

Among the diagnosed patients were two 35-year-old Bernalillo County women, a 33-year-old woman from Taos County and a 2-month old boy and 22-year-old man from Sandoval County.

The Curry County patient was a 19-month old girl.

The health department monitors influenza results from 58 labs and clinics across New Mexico as well as five clinics in Mexico.

Symptoms can include body aches, fever, sneezing and coughing.

Persons who are ill should avoid going out in public while sick, he said, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and wash their hands frequently

People with compromised immune systems are most vulnerable to influenza and, “should get a flu shot every single year,” Minnick said.

About 36,000 people die in the U.S. each year from influenza, Minnick said.

• For information on where to obtain a vaccination, call the New Mexico Nurse Advice Flu Line at (866) 681-5872 or visit the New Mexico Health Department’s Web site at www.nmhealth.org