Most are elderly and children.

    In a follow-up to Thursday’s coverage in the Times of local flu-related activity at Crookston healthcare providers, Altru Clinic-Crookston, which hadn’t returned a message by press time Thursday, reports that more patients are coming to the local clinic with flu-like symptoms.

    That’s pretty much on par with what RiverView Health reported Thursday. The principals at Crookston’s public schools recently reported to the Times that while absenteeism is up somewhat in their buildings, it hasn’t yet reached the point of being a major concern.

    Dr. Olumide Ajayi, a family practioner at Altru Clinic-Crookston, said many of the increased number of patients reporting flu-like symptoms are children and the elderly. They are typically most vulnerable to the influenza virus and often have to battle harder to recover from it. With the Minnesota Department of Health early Friday reporting the fourth death attributed to the flu in the state and earlier this week expressing concern about an early spike in flu cases portending a potentially severe flu season, Dr. Ajayi agrees that he’s seen more patients with flu-like symptoms this year when compared with previous years.

    If you feel like you have the flu, Dr. Ayaji says to get lots of rest, drink lots of fluids and see your primary care provider if the symptoms don’t subside or if they get worse after a few days.

    Symptoms to be in the lookout for include a fever of at least 100 degrees. Dr. Ayaji said, although he added that not all flu patients have a fever. Patients also have a cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. If the symptoms become more severe and a person has difficulty breathing or is short of breath, or have purple or blue discoloration of the lips, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting or seizures, seek medical attention immediately. That goes, too, for people to have flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with a fever and worse cough.

    If you want to avoid some or all of those symptoms, Dr. Ayaji recommends that everyone wash their hands thoroughly and frequently, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer often.

    Jessica Ellingson, RN and nursing supervisor at Altru in Crookston, reiterated that it’s not too late to get a flu vaccination. She also said it’s never too late to be proactive in other ways, too.

    “I can’t stress the hand-washing enough,” she said, adding that it’s especially important to educate children on the importance of good and frequent hand-washing. It’s important that children wash their hands long enough so the washing is effective. She suggests that parents, teachers or other care providers have the kids sing a song while washing.