New Mexico's Flu Cases on the Rise

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The New Mexico Department of Health announced that a 41-year-old female from Lea County and a 4-year-old boy and a 77-year-old female both from Bernalillo County have died from flu complications.

Since October 1, 2006, the Department of Health has reported 69 pneumonia and flu deaths. Pneumonia is a common complication of the flu.

"We want to make sure everyone is protected from the flu, which is why we ordered more flu vaccine this year than the previous year," said Health Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham. "This season started later than usual and still hasn't peaked yet so it's not too late to get a flu shot."

The department still has a supply of flu vaccine that it can send to providers. Please contact the department at 827-0219 for flu shots.

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This year, the state had its first confirmed flu case at the end of December. Flu activity in New Mexico is currently at its highest so far this the season, but it's too early to know whether the season has peaked. A typical flu season in New Mexico starts in November, peaks in late December or early January and lasts until May.

For the first time this season, New Mexico reported 'widespread' activity this week, the highest level of activity according to CDC measurements. The department surveys flu-like activity through reports from 19 health-care providers and 31 laboratories across the state. The providers most recently reported that 3.5% of all patients had a flu-like illness, the highest seen to date this season.

Check with your health care provider for a flu shot. If you do not have a health care provider or your health care provider does not have vaccine, contact your local public health office. You can find your public health office by looking at www.health.state.nm.us or in the State government pages of their phone book.

The Department also recommends the following to help prevent catching or spreading influenza:

 Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently, especially after contact with other people.
 Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. Use a tissue when possible and dispose of the tissue afterward.
 Clean your hands after you cough or sneeze, even if you use a tissue. Use soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner if soap and water are not available.
 Stay home if you get the flu.

In addition, individuals 65 or older or with a chronic health condition are encouraged to get a pneumonia vaccine shot if they have not had one in the past. One of the most frequent complications of influenza is pneumonia.

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