NEW MEXICO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil
For Immediate Release:
January 15, 2009
Department of Health Confirms First Influenza Cases in New Mexico This Flu Season
(Santa Fe) -- The New Mexico Department of Health announced today that it has confirmed the first cases of influenza in New Mexico so far this flu season. Cases are two 35-year-old females from Bernalillo County, a 19-month-old female from Curry County, a 33-year-old female from Taos County and a 2-month-old male and 22-year-old male both from Sandoval County.
The New Mexico cases are both influenza A types and influenza B types, and early information shows that they are likely good matches to the 2008-2009 influenza vaccine.
“Last year at this time, we were already seeing an increase of influenza cases,” said State Epidemiologist C. Mack Sewell. “Now is a good time to get vaccinated from influenza if you haven’t already. We have plenty of flu vaccine available, including the FluMist© which becomes effective faster than the flu shot.”
The Department monitors influenza year-round. During the traditional influenza season (October to May), the Department receives influenza lab results from 58 labs and clinics across New Mexico and five clinics in Mexico (three clinics in Juarez, one in Nuevo Casas Grandes and a clinic in Ojinaga).
To find influenza vaccine in your area, call your health care provider. New Mexico Nurse Advice Flu Line (1-866-681-5872) and the Department’s website, www.nmhealth.org, have clinic information.
People who do not have health insurance should call their local public health office to check on vaccine availability. The Department of Health’s public health offices provide vaccinations at no cost to people who cannot get care elsewhere.
Those who face a higher risk of serious illness, death or exposing others to influenza should get vaccinated if they haven’t already. They are:
Residents of long-term care facilities
Persons ages 2-64 years with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or other breathing problems, kidney disease, heart disease, diabetes, muscle or nerve disorders that can lead to breathing or swallowing problems, and children on long-term aspirin therapy.
· Children age 6 months up to their 19th birthday
· Persons ages 50 years and older
· Pregnant women
· Health care workers who provide direct patient care
Household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children up to age 5, or anyone at increased risk of flu complications
To avoid catching influenza or passing it on to others, people should frequently wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing and stay home when ill.
Many of the people at high risk for a flu shot should also get a pneumonia shot if they have never had one. Everyone age 65 and older needs to have a pneumonia shot.