The influenza outbreak affecting much of Utah and the rest of the nation has missed Grand County.
At least for now.
That’s the word from Valoree Vernon, an epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health. She said flu has shown up heavily in the Salt Lake City area and in southwestern Utah.
“We definitely have flu in the state, but I don’t have any reports from Moab,” Vernon said.
She could not explain why Moab has been spared, other than saying, “It’s just luck for now.”
Reports from local schools back up her contention. Spokeswomen at Helen M. Knight Elementary School, Grand County Middle School and Grand County High School all said there has not been a higher than average number of students absent because of illness.
“It’s normal for this time of year,” Helen M. Knight Elementary secretary Sherrie Zufelt said. “Just the common amount.”
Only two cases of confirmed flu have been reported in the four-county area served by the Southeastern Utah District Health Department, spokeswoman Terrie Wright of the Price office said Tuesday. Those cases involved one person in San Juan County and one person in Carbon County.
However, an official with the same department believes flu is present in Grand County but people are not going to the hospital to be diagnosed, which would prompt a report to the southeastern department and the Utah Department of Health.
Brady Bradford of Price, environmental health director and epidemiologist for the four-county southeast region, said many people might simply be taking care of themselves without help from doctors.
“The flu is iffy because most of us can ride it out, but you never want to make that a general rule,” he said. “If it becomes serious enough you want to go to the hospital.”
Bradford said his office sees the same reports as the Utah Department of Health and acknowledged that no flu cases have been confirmed in Grand County.
He suggested those with flu-like symptoms should stay home and drink plenty of liquids. To avoid getting sick, Bradford said people should wash their hands frequently and avoid confined spaces where many others are present.
Meanwhile, state health department epidemiologist Vernon said Utah’s flu cases appear to be peaking earlier this year than in the past when most of the cases were reported in late January and early February.
An average of 500 to 600 cases of flu are reported to her department annually, she said. A total of 233 cases had been reported as of Jan. 11.
The Utah Department of Health is giving a special warning to pregnant women because they are at a higher risk for serious complications from flu. The department said in a news release it recommends flu shots for any woman considering a pregnancy and for all women who are currently pregnant.
Local flu shot clinics Moab Free Health Clinic
The Moab Free Health Clinic will hold a flu shot clinic on Tuesday, Jan. 29 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. All adults age 18 to 64 are welcome and no appointment is necessary, according to a news release.
There is no charge for the flu vaccination, but a small donation of two cans of food is requested, according to the news release. All food collected will be donated to the Grand County Food Bank.
The clinic is located at 350 South 400 East. For more information, call 435-259-1113.
Moab VA Telehealth Clinic
Local military veterans can receive free flu shots at the Grand Junction VA Medical Center or any VA satellite office including the Moab VA Telehealth clinic, 267 N. Main St. For services at the Moab clinic call 435-719-4144.
For details on the flu vaccine visit www.cdc.gov/flu.