Cherokee Nation citizen Stacie Guthrie receives a flu shot from licensed practical nurse Sharon Morton at the Gadugi Health Clinic in Tahlequah, Okla. JAMI CUSTER/CHEROKE PHOENIX

Influenza hits CN but vaccines still available

Nationwide, during the week that ended on Jan. 12, 4.6 percent of patient visits reported to the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL By Jan. 12, the Centers for Disease Control reported that the flu had reached 48 states and influenza activity remained elevated in the United States. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL To help fight against influenza and inform people about the virus, Dr. Jorge Mera, of Cherokee Nation Health Services, provides a presentation on Jan. 18 in Tahlequah, Okla. TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Nationwide, during the week that ended on Jan. 12, 4.6 percent of patient visits reported to the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network were due to influenza-like illness. This percentage is above the national baseline of 2.2 percent. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
BY TESINA JACKSON
Reporter
02/01/2013 08:01 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – With more than 230 people testing positive for influenza within the Cherokee Nation, officials say tribal health clinics have vaccines available and urge people to get one.

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. It causes mild to severe illness, and at times, leads to death. Some people, such as older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, are higher risks for flu complications.

“The flu is a virus and viruses are very, very smart you might say,” Dr. Roger Montgomery, CN medical director, said. “They change themselves every year and try to morph themselves so they can have a better success of causing illness. And there are also different strains out there, and so the CDC tries to come up with an idea of what strains of virus will cause illness each year and the vaccine has three different kinds of strains of virus in it.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, this flu season has produced a high outbreak with more than 3,600 people hospitalized since October, most of them older than 65, and at least 20 children’s deaths.

By Jan. 12, the CDC reported the flu had reached 48 states and activity remained elevated. On average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the population gets influenza. This season, it’s hit more than 30 percent.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, flu season began on Sept. 30. Since then there have been more than 500 related hospitalizations and eight related deaths in the state.

There are three types of flu viruses: A, B and C. Types A and B cause the epidemics that have up to 20 percent of the population sniffling, aching, coughing and running fevers. Type C also causes flu, but its symptoms are less severe.

The Type A virus constantly changes and is spread by infected people. Type B flu may cause a less severe reaction, but occasionally it can still be harmful. Type C viruses are milder than type A and B. People generally do not become extremely ill from them and they do not cause epidemics.

The flu usually starts suddenly and may include fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and tiredness. Some people have vomiting and diarrhea, though it’s more common in children.

Some complications caused by flu are pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, asthma or diabetes. Children may get sinus problems or ear infections.

“The deaths that you see reported are not really from the virus itself. They’re from the super-imposed illness that occurs after they’ve had influenza that causes them to develop respiratory failure and pneumonia,” Montgomery said.

The flu spreads by droplets released by coughing and sneezing. Occasionally touching something with a virus on it and then touching the mouth or nose may cause infection. People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away.

“That’s why we emphasize if you’re out there going to work, going to public places, touching objects that other people touch don’t take your hand and rub your nose without first washing your hands thoroughly and wash them frequently,” Montgomery said.

People with flu are contagious and can infect others beginning one day before getting symptoms. Adults remain contagious up to seven days after getting sick, and children can remain contagious even longer.

“If you came in contact with the person who had the flu, you’ve contracted the virus,” Dr. Sohail Khan, of CN Health Services, said. “Within two days you will start to develop symptoms, and the important thing to remember is that you can be infectious for the next five to seven days.”

The best way to prevent the flu is vaccination. The vaccination rate for the American Indian/Alaskan Native population is 29 percent, according to Indian Health Services.

“I think as a group, because the prevalent of diabetes is so great, that it’s just recommended broadly that all Native Americans be vaccinated,” Montgomery said.

According to WebMD, the vaccine is highly effective for preventing the flu, though not 100 percent. People can get the flu despite getting vaccinated, although it’s usually less severe and resolves quicker. According to the CDC, vaccines given this year appear to be about 62 percent effective overall. Of people who got the flu, 32 percent were vaccinated.

“It can either completely eliminate you from having any symptoms at all or it can, the word we use is, attenuate,” Montgomery said. “It can lessen the severity of the duration of symptoms that you have.”

There are two types of vaccines: the shot and nasal spray. The shot is contains a dead virus that’s given with a needle. The shot given in the muscle is for people older than 6 months, including healthy people and people with chronic medical conditions. The shot given below the skin is for 18- to 64-year-olds.

The nasal spray vaccine contains live, weakened viruses. It’s for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are not pregnant. Neither vaccine causes the flu.

It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop that protect against infection for the entire year. Flu vaccines will not protect against illnesses caused by other viruses such as the common cold.

If positive for flu, there are antiviral drugs that can be used to treat the illness.

“The main one that most people have heard about is called Tamiflu,” Montgomery said. “It’s most effective if you start it within 48 hours of the onset of your symptoms.”

Annual vaccination is recommended for everyone regardless of past vaccination status or flu infection. Vaccination should begin in September or as soon as the vaccine is available and continue throughout the flu season, which can last as late as May.

To view a CN Health Services flu presentation, visit http://legislative.cherokee.org/StreamingEvents.aspx
and click on influenza presentation.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

About the Author
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter.    

In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, Tesina first started working as an intern for the Cherokee Phoenix after receiving the John Shurr Journalism Award in 2009. Later that year, Tesina received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., and in 2010 joined the Phoenix staff as a reporter. In 2006, Tesina received an internship at The Forum newspaper in Fargo, N.D., after attending the American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. She also attended the AIJI summer program in 2007 and in 2009 she participated in the Native American Journalists Association student projects as a reporter. Tesina is currently a member of NAJA and the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization.

Health

BY STAFF REPORTS
10/21/2014 03:12 PM
BOSTON, Mass. – According to an October 2014 Harvard Women’s Health Watch, to lower cholesterol a health diet is necessary, but that doesn’t mean the food must be “less appetizing.” “A heart-healthy diet doesn't have to be an exercise in self-deprivation,” states the Harvard health publication. “It's a good idea to say goodbye to some snacks and fast foods, but they can usually be replaced with others that are equally satisfying. The key is exchanging bad fats for good ones,” Kathy McManus, director of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said. “Because all fats contain the same number of calories – about 100 per tablespoon – the substitution isn’t likely to leave you feeling hungry.” She adds that trans fats show up on food labels as “partially hydrogenated” oils. “They are found most commonly in packaged bakery goods, crackers, microwave popcorn, and other snacks,” she said. “Trans fats boost the level of harmful LDL cholesterol, lower protective HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation.” The publication also states to use vegetable oils when possible. “These contain a mixture of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Other good sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats include most seeds and nuts, avocados, and fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and mackerel,” Harvard Women’s Health Watch states. McManus said saturated fats and dietary cholesterol are all right in small amounts, they are mostly found in animal-based foods like red meat and milk. “That translates to four eggs a week and small servings of red meat, shrimp, lobster, cheese, butter, and organ meats every couple of weeks or so. But don't make the mistake of substituting sugar for fat. Many foods advertised as low fat, like salad dressings and cookies, contain extra sugar to make up for the loss of flavor from removing fat,” the publication states. McManus said doing so is one of the worst choices you can make. “The higher-fat version may sometimes be a better choice,” she added.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/20/2014 03:45 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – Throughout October, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa guests can enjoy a stay on a hotel floor decked out in pink décor and earn a chance to win a custom, restored 1955 pink Cadillac and purchase limited edition pink apparel. “We’ve taken pink to a whole new level this year, and it is a creative way for our guests and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa to contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer,” Jon Davidson, hotel director of hospitality said. “We’re extremely proud to help bring awareness to Oklahoma Project Woman, because it is a local organization that provides services year-round to those who are battling a disease that impacts thousands of Oklahomans each year.” To contribute to the ongoing fight against breast cancer, The Hard Rock Store is also selling limited edition pink apparel with a portion of the proceeds being donated to Oklahoma Project Woman, which provides breast health education, no cost mammography, diagnostic procedures and surgical services for women who because of financial hardship may delay seeking medical attention. Also during the month, guests who book a room on the 10th floor of Hard Rock’s newest hotel tower will experience all pink amenities, including sheets, pillows, robes, elevator and hotel suite doors. For giveaway rules and details for the pink Cadillac or for more information, visit <a href="http://www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com" target="_blank">www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com</a> or visit the Cherokee Star Rewards Club.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Reporter
10/17/2014 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Tribal Council on Sept. 15 approved six people as members for the Cherokee Health Partners board. The board is made up of five voting members, three who represent the tribe and two who represent Northeastern Health Systems, formerly known as Tahlequah City Hospital. Each board member also has an alternate. Those approved on Sept. 15 were Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail; Health Finances Director Ami Sams; Connie Davis, CN Health Services executive director; Health Services Senior Director of Health Finances Rick Kelly; Senior Director of Health Services Sandie Taggart and Dr. Roger Montgomery, CN medical director. Other board members are Julie Ward, NHS vice president of finance; and Brian Woodliff, NHS president and CEO. Mark McCroskey, NHS vice president of operations; and NHS Vice President of Patient Care Donna Dallis, as well as Sams, Taggart and Montgomery will serve as alternate members. Board members selected by each entity to serve five-year terms can be reappointed. Board members are non-paid positions and are trained in regards to conflicts of interest. Hail said CHP was created in 2004. It is a CN limited liability company formed between the tribe’s comprehensive care agency and the Tahlequah Hospital Authority. “Cherokee Health Partners is now a Cherokee Nation LLC with the Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Hospital Authority as partners,” Hail said. “Cherokee Health Partners was developed between Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah City Hospital, now known as Northeastern Health System, to provide imaging services in an integrated manner for both entities.” CHP focuses on “improving the quality, access and cost efficiency of imaging services” to areas served by both hospitals,” he said. “Additionally, Cherokee Health Partners overriding purpose was to further the nonprofit care which is at the heart of both entities’ mission,” Hail said. “Recently, Cherokee Health Partners’ operating agreement was amended to allow an expanded scope of services so that it can focus not just on imaging services for the community, but also on other medical services that can be better served by collaboration and coordination between the two partners.” Hail said the board helps provide personnel and equipment for specialized imaging services for both entities, including nuclear imaging, ultrasonography, echocardiography, and cardiac stress tests. “Having these services provided in the community by qualified staff members in the community means that patients don’t have to travel long distances for specialized care and that skilled jobs are created and kept within Northeastern Oklahoma,” he said. “Fewer patients have to be transferred for appropriate tests to be performed which means they’re able to stay in their community while receiving excellent medical care.” CHP is a partnership with the majority interest in the LLC being owned by CN, therefore, the tribe selects its representatives and no approval is necessary by outside of the CN. “The Tahlequah Hospital Authority Board of Trustees selects the representatives for Northeastern Health System,” he added. CHP hosts one annual business meeting a year at the Medical Office Building located at 1373 E. Boone Street in Tahlequah. “Additionally, meetings are open and are held as needed,” Hail said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/10/2014 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – To prepare for the upcoming influenza season, Cherokee Nation Health Services has an increased supply of vaccinations on hand to offer multiple flu clinics in October and November for Cherokees and citizens of federally recognized tribes. “Flu season is responsible for a lot of hospitalizations of children and elders. It’s so important that everybody – kids and adults – receive their flu vaccination before flu season starts,” Dr. Dante Perez, W.W. Hastings Hospital chief of pediatrics, said. “Vaccines allow our bodies to develop antibodies against the virus given time. It’s not automatic, and it doesn’t happen immediately. That’s why it’s so important to get it done early.” The tribe’s eight health centers and Hastings Hospital received more than 50,000 doses of the flu vaccine altogether. Flu clinics will be set up in more than 50 locations, including health centers and schools, to provide tribal citizens and their families with easier access to the vaccinations. In 2013, Health Services administered approximately 35,000 flu vaccines. “By establishing flu clinics in our health care facilities and communities, having vaccines available at scheduled patient visits and providing this service for a longer period of time, we hope to be even more successful at getting our citizens and their families vaccinated than last year,” Jennifer Belden, CN infection preventionist, said. “We are bringing the vaccines to the community by utilizing the public health nurses at several offsite locations. Our employees are dedicated to providing this service and eager to reach out to the community in order to combat this virus.” Hastings Hospital will kick off its flu clinic from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday on Oct. 8. Flu clinics will be set up at several other locations in Cherokee County, such as area schools, through Nov. 14. For a complete list of flu clinics within the 14-county tribal jurisdiction, click <a href="http://www.cherokee.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=yilAb5Fa73w%3d&tabid=5274&portalid=0&mid=5878" target="_blank">here</a>. Flu Clinic information will be updated regularly.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/10/2014 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Seven Commissioned Corps officers who work for the Cherokee Nation were promoted on Sept. 26 during a ceremony at CN W.W. Hastings Hospital. “The Cherokee Nation’s relationship with the Commissioned Corps allows us access to expertise in fields of medicine and engineering that otherwise would be difficult to achieve in a rural setting,” W.W. Hastings Hospital CEO Brian Hail said. “These officers also provide us with a level of professionalism and commitment to health service that’s unsurpassed.” Clayton Myers, Amanda Bonner, Carl Coats and Linzi Allen, all pharmacists and Crystal Bright a nurse were all promoted to lieutenant commander. They all work at at Hastings. Steve Scott was promoted to commander. He is a pharmacist at the Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee. David Gahn was promoted to captain. He is the surveillance coordinator for Cherokee Nation Public Health. There are approximately 100 Commissioned Corps officers who work in the Nation’s Health Services. The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps is a group of uniformed health professionals who work to provide care to vulnerable and underserved populations in the United States.
BY STAFF REPORTS
10/07/2014 03:53 PM
MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The ninth annual Breast Cancer Awareness Event to benefit Women Who Care is slated for Oct. 23 at Arrowhead Mall. The event will be located at the west end of the mall near Dillard’s from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. It will consist of a luncheon, silent auction and fashion show. The fashion show features breast cancer survivors modeling the latest fall fashions, according to a release. Cherokee Nation citizen Gina Olaya will be the guest speaker. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Okie Country 101.7 in Arrowhead Mall. All proceeds will go to benefit Women Who Care, a 501(c)(3) organization that helps provide outreach, prevention, education and support about breast cancer to women in the Muskogee area. For more information, call Julie Ledbetter at 918-520-7872.