Thanksgiving Means Good Eating For Families And The Flu Virus

Thanksgiving brings a lot of togetherness, including at the microscopic level with increased reports of respiratory viruses, the Wyoming state health officer reports.

DK
Dale Killingbeck

November 22, 20233 min read

Residents in Casper can get their turkey and flu shot at the same time at Albertsons.
Residents in Casper can get their turkey and flu shot at the same time at Albertsons. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

CASPER — Thanksgiving Day gatherings around the table in Wyoming mean turkey, dressing and sometimes those nasty respiratory viruses that have been waiting for a good meal.

Wyoming State Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist reports that viruses in the state are ramping up.

“We are certainly heading into respiratory virus season,” she said. “We have seen increased COVID reports since August, we are starting to see an increase in influenza and RSV. Based on past years, this is the time of the year when transmission of those viruses increase.”

RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, typically carries symptoms similar to the flu. It can become dangerous for older adults and the very young.

“There is a vaccine available for adults 60 years and older and also infants,” she said.

Pregnant women can receive the vaccine prior to a baby’s birth or the baby can be given an antibody product that can help ward off a severe impact of the virus.

Harrist said both the vaccine and the antiviral product are new and there is a shortage of the antibody product. Families, especially pregnant women, should consult their physician for the best course of action.

How Effective?

The effectiveness of this year’s flu shot is yet to be determined. Typically, data early next year will reveal if the right strains of the virus are in the vaccine. Everyone 6 months and older are eligible for the vaccine.

“Now is the time to get a flu shot,” Harrist said. “It takes a couple of weeks before it kicks in.”

Typical symptoms of all three viruses include fever, coughing, nasal congestion, runny noses or muscle aches.

Harrist advises anyone with symptoms to keep their distance from others on Thanksgiving.

“The best thing to do when you are sick is to stay home, which I know is very hard over the holidays,” she said, adding that primary care physicians or urgent care facilities can prescribe antivirals helpful for both the flu and COVID.

At BestMed Urgent Care in Casper, Practice Supervisor Kaela Bretz confirmed traffic is increasing through the doors of her facility.

“We’re seeing an increase in COVID right now,” she said. “I’m sure we’re going to see an increase in the flu shortly. Since the beginning of this month, especially the last couple of weeks people have not been feeling well.”

BestMed Urgent Care in Casper staff confirm respiratory viruses are active in the community.
BestMed Urgent Care in Casper staff confirm respiratory viruses are active in the community. (Dale Killingbeck, Cowboy State Daily)

Dale Killingbeck can be reached at dale@cowboystatedaily.com.

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