Flu cases rising, more vaccines on the way

First Posted: 10/15/2009

As flu cases are on the rise across the nation, the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center is still waiting to receive more vaccines.
We were hoping to get some this week, but we havent, said Thomas Williams, media relations specialist for the health department.
Williams said the department still has nasal spray H1N1 vaccines that are being distributed to health-care workers.
We are expecting a new shipment any day, Williams noted.
In Surry County, no official count has been taken of the number of flu incidences, but Williams said the health center has seen a lot of activity.
Kitty Horton, director of infection prevention for Northern Hospital of Surry County, said, We have seen an increase in numbers since school started.
Horton and Williams both said that many people are going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms that dont necessarily need to.
Just because I have a cough and low-grade temperature doesnt mean that I have to come in to the hospital … Thats up to an individual, Horton pointed out.
Williams said many people are going to doctors offices more than they would have in the past just to make sure that they dont have the H1N1 virus.
Theres a lot of self-diagnosis out there, he said.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people minimize emergency visits to hospitals. Horton said if a person has complicating factors such as COPD or asthma and is not getting better, then they should see a doctor. If people have a mild fever, they should try to stay at home and drink plenty of fluids.
The CDC is also saying that 99 percent of type A influenza viruses being reported to the organization are of the H1N1 strain. So local doctors offices and medical centers are lumping the swine flu and seasonal flu together.
Williams explained, We treat the two as if theyre one and the same.
He said the major difference between the seasonal flu and H1N1 is that diarrhea and vomiting is reported with some H1N1 cases. Depending on the timing of the case, some patients are given antiviral drugs.
According to Horton, the only patients actually tested for H1N1 are those hospitalized and in the intensive care unit. Williams said the state is backed up with tests, which is why only severe cases are tested for lab confirmation.
Many medical centers are taking precautions to prevent the spread of the flu in their centers. Horton said patients that come to the hospital with a fever over 100 degrees and a cough are asked to wear a mask. Williams said many doctors offices are bringing flu patients in through different entrances or telling them to wait in the car until the exact time of their appointment. Williams suggests calling to set up an appointment ahead of time to learn the medical providers policy.
Horton said that last winter the county saw a lower number of flu incidences than usual. Neither she nor Williams had heard of any flu deaths this year. Williams said he doesnt think reports are done on flu-related deaths in the county each year.
Most people can recover from sickness such as this … If youve been sick two or three days and your fever continues to rise, then get to your medical provider, Williams said.
In the most recent report by the influenza division of the CDC, the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza in the nation was at the epidemic threshold. Nineteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported in the nation from Sept. 27 to Oct. 3. Region 4, which includes North Carolina, reported widespread flu activity in all eight jurisdictions during that week.
According to switchboard operators, the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center has received many calls about the H1N1 virus. Residents can call 401-9000, the county H1N1 information line, for more information about the virus. The CDC also has information related to H1N1 on its Web site, cdc.gov.
Contact Meghann Evans at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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