January 26, 2024
MCHD works to keep residents safe during Carnival season
MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) and Family Health, its primary care division, hope people attending Carnival parades and balls will only go home with beads and good memories — not with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).
In 2023, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced at a Mobile City Council meeting that almost 1.1 million revelers attended parades over a 19-day period. This included 177,000 on Joe Cain Day and then 220,000 on Mardi Gras.
“The Mobile County Health Department prepares each year to help make sure our citizens and visitors have an enjoyable time during Mardi Gras,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “Our Inspection Services team is out making sure all the temporary food vendors meet the same requirements as our traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.
“In the past, a group of MCHD employees from several departments have volunteered to distribute bottles of hand sanitizer during Carnival parades. We plan on continuing this practice.”
In Mobile County, MCHD’s Data Science Team reports the number of emergency department visits in response to an ILI — such as influenza, COVID-19, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) — have seen a general decline for the last four weeks, with ILI accounting for 4.3 percent of all emergency departments visits for the week ending January 20.
However, the numbers across the state are higher. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), emergency department visits reporting symptoms of a respiratory virus were at 7.05 percent for the same week. This is an increase from the previous week’s mark of 6.61 percent.
According to ADPH, all districts have seen lab-confirmed cases of influenza (A/H3; A/H1N1; B) in its communities in the last three weeks. COVID-19, RSV, and Human Rhinovirus/Enterovirus are currently circulating throughout Alabama and can present similar symptoms as influenza.
For the first time in U.S. history, vaccines for all three major respiratory viruses are available.
“The treatment of many of the viral respiratory illnesses are supportive in nature, cough, decongestants, and anti-fever medications or simply rest and hydration,” said Dr. Michaels. “Also, minimize other causes through annual flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and for those at risk getting the new RSV vaccination.”
Dr. Michaels goes on to encourage social distancing, hand washing, cough etiquette, and the use of facial coverings as dictated by their overall health. To find a location to get your flu or COVID-19 shots, visit https://www.vaccines.gov. For the RSV vaccine, please reach out to your provider or pharmacy.