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
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
and click on influenza presentation.

918-453-5000, ext. 6139


05/03/2016 04:00 PM
TULSA, Okla. – The Indian Health Care Resource Center is offering various camps this summer, including a Wellness Adventures Camp, Culture Camp and Sports & Fitness Camp. The Wellness Adventures Camp is offered to children who have completed grades 2-9. Youths participate in low and high elements of a challenge course and learn problem-solving skills, communication and teamwork, an IHCRC release states. The Culture Camp helps expose Indian youth to Native culture with field trips to Cherokee and Osage nations as well as the Will Rogers and Woolaroc museums. The Sports & Fitness Camp provides opportunities for physical activities, games, experiential learning and enhancing sports skills. For more information, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/03/2016 08:00 AM
LAKE ANDES, S.D. – The Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center recently released its workbook for Native American females titled “What To Do When You Are Raped, An ABC Handbook For Native Girls.” The book, Cherokee Nation citizen Pam Kingfisher said, is a resource aimed at answering questions women face following a sexual assault. “From thinking through buying emergency contraception, to getting tested for STDS, to who to turn to for support,” she said. Comanche Nation citizen Charon Asetoyer, who is also the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center’s CEO, said the book is a woman-to-woman, woman-to-girl, girl-to-girl community response in regards to sexual assault. “Sharing with them, providing support, letting them know they are not alone. That this is not their fault and they shouldn’t blame themselves. The book instructs them on how to report if they choose to,” Asetoyer said. “It talks to them about going in for STD exam and also access to emergency contraceptive Plan B.” Kingfisher and Asetoyer joined Elizabeth Black Bull and Donna Haukaas to co-write the book. [BLOCKQUOTE]Asetoyer said she was asked by a young mother on the Yankton Sioux Reservation in Lake Andes what she should do if her daughter was raped. Asetoyer said that when a mother puts it as when, not if, her daughter is raped, there is a realization that the problem is worse than originally thought. Asetoyer said the book sends a message to women and helps them realize it is not their fault. “There are other women out there. You’re not alone, and turn to them for help,” she said. Kingfisher said the project was personal and that she’s worked with Asetoyer on the book for about four years. “I think it’s so important that we advocate for our health and for our women. As a young girl who was assaulted and didn’t know anything…and later became pregnant and was forced to give up a child for adoption, I didn’t know any of these things. Nobody talked. These conversations didn’t happen at the kitchen table or even around girlfriends,” Kingfisher said. She added that she and Asetoyer, as well as other advocates fighting against sexual assault, want to make this issue real. “For me it’s important that we serve that matriarchal role of being good aunties, being good grandmas, being big sisters and helping,” she said. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one of the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organizations, during an American Indian or Alaskan woman’s lifetime she is at a 34.1 percent chance of suffering from rape or attempted rape, the most of any other race. And about 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetimes. The book is available for download at <a href="" target="_blank"></a> Kingfisher said hardcopy bulk orders would be available in the future. <strong>Women</strong> • 1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime (14.8 percent completed rape; 2.8 percent attempted rape). • 17.7 million American women have been victims of attempted or completed rape. • 9 of every 10 rape victims were female in 2003. <strong>Lifetime rate of rape/attempted rape for women by race:</strong> All: 17.6 percent White: 17.7 percent Black: 18.8 percent Asian Pacific Islander: 6.8 percent American Indian/Alaskan: 34.1 percent Mixed race: 24.4 percent <strong>Men</strong> • About 3 percent of American men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. • From 1995-2010, 9 percent of rape and sexual assault victims were male. • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape. <strong>Children</strong> • 15 percent of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12. • 29 percent are ages 12-17. • 44 percent are under age 18. • 80 percent are under age 30. • Ages 12-34 are the highest-risk years. • Girls ages 16-19 are 4 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. • 7 percent of girls in grades 5-8 and 12 percent of girls in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. • 3 percent of boys grades 5-8 and 5 percent of boys in grades 9-12 said they had been sexually abused. • 82 percent of all juvenile victims are female. • The year in a male’s life when he is most likely to be the victim of a sexual assault is age 4. A female’s year of greatest risk is age 14. • 1 in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. • In 1995, local child protection service agencies identified 126,000 children who were victims of either substantiated or indicated sexual abuse. • Of these, 75 percent were girls. • Nearly 30 percent of child victims were between ages 4-7. <strong>Every 8 minutes, Child Protective Service responds to a report of sexual abuse.</strong> • 93 percent of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker. • 34.2 percent of attackers were family members. • 58.7 percent were acquaintances. • Only 7 percent of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. • For 80 percent of juvenile victims, the perpetrator was a parent. 6 percent were other relatives. 4 percent were unmarried partners of a parent. 5 percent were “other” (from siblings to strangers). <strong>American Indians</strong> • On average during 1992-2001, American Indians age 12 or older experienced annually an estimated 5,900 rapes or sexual assaults. • American Indians were twice as likely to experience a rape/sexual assault compared to all races. • Sexual violence makes up 5 percent of all violent crime committed against Indians (about the same as for other races). • Offender/victim relationship: 41 percent stranger; 34 percent acquaintance; 25 percent intimate or family member. <strong>Campus Sexual Violence</strong> • Women 18-24 who are enrolled in college are 3 times more likely than women in general to suffer from sexual violence. Females of the same age who are not enrolled in college are 4 times more likely. • Male college-aged students are 78 percent more likely than nonstudents to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. • Female college-aged students are 20 percent less likely than nonstudents to be a victim of rape or sexual assault. • Only 20 percent of female student survivors age 18-24 report to law enforcement. In comparison, 33 percent of female nonstudent survivors aged 18-24 report to law enforcement. • 72 percent of campus law enforcement agencies have a staff member responsible for survivor response and assistance. • 8 percent of all sexual assaults occur while victim is attending school. <strong>Victims of sexual assault are:</strong> 3 times more likely to suffer from depression. 6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol. 26 times more likely to abuse drugs. 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide. The preceding statistics were taken from the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. To see these and other information regarding sexual assault, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a>.
04/28/2016 02:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On May 5, the Oklahoma Breast Care Center’s Mobile Mammogram Unit will be at the Cherokee Nation’s Gadugi Health Center offering mammograms to those who are eligible. Mammogram screenings are available to CN employees who carry insurance. According to a release, the American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 have a mammogram yearly. When receiving a mammogram it is important to wear a two-piece outfit so it is easy to undress from the waist up. It is also recommended to not wear deodorant or powder because is can show up on the scan. For more information or to schedule a mammogram, call 918-207-4911.
04/28/2016 12:00 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will be closed for the replacement and installation of a new emergency generator from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on April 30. All patient care will be diverted, and if inclement weather occurs, the maintenance will be rescheduled to following week.
04/25/2016 12:30 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Claremore Indian Hospital will host an Affordable Care Act Outreach and Enrollment Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on May 19 at 101 S. Moore Ave. According to a hospital press release, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Oklahoma will be at the hospital to assist patients with signing up for free to low-cost health insurance. Those wishing to sign up must bring their income information such as pay stubs, W-2 forms or “Wage and Tax Statements” to learn about health insurance options. Applicants must also bring their Social Security numbers, policy numbers for any current health insurance and information about any health insurance they or their families could get from an employer. Nov. 1 marked the beginning of the third open enrollment period for the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace. According to the release, even though citizens of federally recognized tribes have a special monthly enrollment status, it is important for American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families to learn about their insurance options. “Whether it’s purchasing insurance through the Marketplace or qualifying for SoonerCare, knowing that you have quality coverage provides peace of mind,” the release states. For more information, call Sheila Dishno, the hospital’s patient benefit coordinator, at 918-342-6240.
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
04/22/2016 12:00 PM
PEGGS, Okla. – Spring is in full bloom and many people are taking to their gardens to plant vegetable and flower seeds. Cherokee Nation citizens Deborah Smoke, her husband, William, and their grandson, Caden Murphy, recently spent time turning a patch of dirt into a hopeful crop of okra. Deborah said the okra is the first of several crops they intend to plant. “We’ve cleaned up our beds and we’ve planted okra today, and we have several other bedding plants to put out,” she said. “We have our tomatoes, but with the spring like it’s been we’ve just been real worried about frost, and so we’re trying to work around the weather. My husband and I are trying to get our beds ready. They’re small but they’re productive.” The couple also plans to plant heirloom seeds they received from the CN Seed Bank. “This year we got some heirloom seeds from the Cherokees. We got two varieties. One of them is a bean and one of them is a squash. We’re hoping to see how those go, and if we like them then we’ll save our seeds and we’ll plant them again next year,” she said. Deborah said working in the garden is therapeutic for her and her husband. “In the past several years I’ve had two back surgeries and probably need some more. My husband has had rheumatoid arthritis since he was 35-years-old and he has always been as active as his condition will allow him, and he’s even gone a little above,” she said. “It is very therapeutic for us to get out and work in the gardens and see the results every year.” Deborah said working with Murphy also proves to be therapeutic. “Well, he’s very therapeutic because he keeps you active. He’s just energetic, always wanting to go. Whether you want to get up or not you get up and that’s a good thing because we don’t want to be sedentary,” she said. “He comes out, ‘what can I do? I want to work.’ So we put him to work today on helping grow the garden, wanted to pull weeds. You don’t see young kids wanting to pull weeds, but he’s done that for several years even since he was about 3 years old. He’d go out and pull the weeds.” Deborah said her earliest memory of gardening was with her grandparents in Sapulpa. “I would go out every year and help my grandmother plant, and I’d help her harvest the crops, and of course all the families shared in the goodies,” she said. “These are the times that I can look back and remember and have the good aspects.” She said it’s good to pass her gardening knowledge to Murphy such as her grandparents did with her. “Having your youth to continue this process, I think, is the most important thing that we can do to continue the longevity of our culture, the tribe and the youth of today,” she said. Murphy, 7, said he enjoys helping in the garden because he can “learn stuff and plant seeds.” “I thought people would like eating them (okra) because they are good for you and they taste good,” he said. He said it’s important for kids to help garden “because it’s fun and it’s fun doing it with your family.”