Residential health care facilities seeing flu outbreaks - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Residential health care facilities seeing flu outbreaks

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There’s been a significant increase in flu cases in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.

The flu is spreading faster than usual, and for older adults, health officials say it's crucial to take extra precautions. 

People aged 65 and older risk serious complications from the flu. 

“Elders are more susceptible to the flu. As we age, our immune system declines. It’s not as robust as a younger person,” said Dr. Polly Baldwin, Medical Director for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. 

Santa Barbara County reports five outbreaks of influenza in residential health care facilities so far this season. 

“They are more likely to get the flu, and when they get it, it’s harder for them to get rid of it and get well,” Dr. Baldwin added. 

San Luis Obispo County officials say they are aware of six facilities experiencing flu outbreaks.

They say it’s not necessarily the whole facility, it may be one wing or unit, but either way, retirement homes are taking precautions. 

The Village at Sydney Creek has a sign up at the front door, warning people to stay away if they are feeling ill.

“Touching something or coughing can easily spread the germs. Our population is frail and many of them will not make it through an influenza outbreak,” said Kellie Gallegly, Executive Director at Village at Sydney Creek.

And if any of the residents happen to start feeling flu-like symptoms, the facility will isolate them. 

“If I have more than one resident, we have three neighborhoods, if I have more than one resident sick then we will isolate that neighborhood to try to keep the germs contained to that neighborhood,” Gallegly added. 

Staff at each facility is urged to get the flu shot and if they begin to look sick, they will be sent home right away. 

Others at high risk of getting the flu are children under age 5, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions such as lung or heart disease.

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