Flu Arrives in Johnson County

Dr. Mark Schueler

The Johnson County Board of Health met earlier this month and one topic discussed was how the influenza season is affecting the community so far.

Public Health Officer Dr. Mark Schueler, M.D., said that the healthcare professionals are seeing active influenza cases, and that it normally arrives here toward the end of the normal flu season, which is earlier this year than average.

He said it doesn't appear to have any significant impact overall on severity of the cases this year.

In reviewing statistics from last year, which turned out was more severe than average, although maybe not as much locally.
State-wide and nationally, there were more cases and more hospitalizations than average.

The effectiveness of last year's vaccine was not good, he said, and explained why.

Dr. Schueler said the lack of effectiveness of the vaccine can be used by some as an argument not to get the flu shot, but the counter argument is until something better comes along, its the best option to fight influenza.

He also said there are a number of options for antiviral therapy drugs that are helpful in shortening the duration of the illness, but are not very effective if taken more than 48 hours of getting the illness.

The key, he said, is knowing the flu virus is present in the community and knowing about when one is exposed and anticipating the need for the antiviral therapy within the 48-hour period is helpful in fighting the virus.