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Hospital records first case of influenza in adult

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Regional Hospital diagnosed its first case of influenza Monday afternoon in an adult with a 103-degree fever.

Dr. Greg Hoversten, director of emergency room care at the hospital, said the patient was diagnosed with Influenza A. It's the first documented case in the area, he said.

"We've been looking for it all winter," Hoversten said, adding that the influenza has reached epidemic proportions out west. "It seems to be heading this way in higher numbers."

While Hoversten said people shouldn't panic, history shows that the first case of influenza is sometimes followed by an epidemic. The Minnesota Department of Health has recorded 31 cases of influenza in the state so far this season.

One positive aspect of the Influenza A strain that is circulating is that the flu vaccine provided to the public "seems to be pretty effective" in fighting the strain, Hoversten said.

Symptoms of Influenza A include a high fever, headache, backache, leg aches, nausea, sore throat and/or nasal stuffiness. Fatigue is also a major symptom.

"Influenza is a harsher cold than other colds in that the symptoms are harsher and they last longer," Hoversten said. "Instead of having the sniffles for a couple three days, you can get a high fever, body aches and be quite fatigued for several days, up to a week."

Treating influenza is done the old-fashioned way -- taking mom's advice and getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of fluids and, for adults, taking a simple aspirin.

"There isn't a whole lot of treatment for influenza," Hoversten said. "Two of the mainstay medications are not recommended this season, and the medicines that are approved for use in Influenza A don't work real well."

Still, the best way for people to protect themselves against the influenza virus is to practice preventive measures.

Beth Carlson, Worthington Regional Hospital infection control nurse, said people can still get the flu shot at their local clinic. It takes about two weeks for the inoculum to take effect.

Other steps to prevention include practicing good eating, sleeping and exercise habits, Carlson said.

"Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth ... and cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze," she said. "Clean your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizers."

Once a person gets sick, Carlson said they should stay home to avoid spreading their germs to co-workers or people in public places. People who have a cold, cough or runny nose are advised to refrain from visiting people in the hospital, while those who come in for treatment may be asked to wear a mask on their face to protect others from getting sick.

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Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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