Stopping the spread of the flu virus

A handful of flu cases have been found in Kern County.

If your office or classroom has had several empty desks recently, you are not alone. The flu season that's hit the majority of the country, is creeping into Kern County.

Local health officials say as holiday vacations come to an end, people who traveled to some of the harder hit flu areas are coming home, possibly with the bug. The other reason we are starting to see the first cases, is it's just the season.

Nicole Brubaker, who is 10 years old, has the bug and feels, she says, "Really bad."

She is among a handful of flu cases local family practitioner, Dr. Hemmal Kothary has seen as the flu season climbs to its peak.

"We've been extremely busy this year," said Dr. Kothary. "And, the funny part is, we haven't seen too many cases of the flu quite yet. So, we should get busier as the year goes along."

Dr. Kothary says this year, most of his patients are suffering from the common cold. Those symptoms can include congestion, runny nose, and a fever. The flu virus, however, can come with a dry cough, elevated fever, and body aches.

"People always complain. They compare it to being hit by a truck. Your body hurts all over," said Dr. Kothary.

Nicole felt all of the symptoms. She had severe pain in her neck and her temperature spiked to 104.

"It gets kind of dizzy when I stand up," said Nicole who just wanted to sleep.

Some areas hit hard and early by the flu are reporting shortages of the antiviral, Tamiflu. Dr. Kothary says Bakersfield is fully stocked. And, he says catching the symptoms early, within 48 hours, and getting a prescription, can cut what can be a week to ten-day flu sickness, nearly in half.

And, if you haven't had the flu, or if you have and it's passed, pharmacist Kevin Komoto at Komoto Health Care, recommends getting the flu shot.

"The vaccination actually contains a couple other strains that you might not have received yet that you can get vaccinated for," said Komoto.

"I think these bugs are getting smarter and smarter every year, so I feel it will evolve," said Dr. Kothary.

Children and the elderly are most susceptible to the flu, but Dr. Kothary says no one is immune. Prevention is still on the table for Kern County, so we don't get as hard hit as other areas.

Tips are to stay home when you're sick, cover your cough, wash your hands, and don't touch your face. 

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