11/28/05 — Health officials say caution will help curtail flu

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Health officials say caution will help curtail flu

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 28, 2005 1:48 PM

While still too early to forecast this year's flu season, some local health care workers continue to promote the importance of precautionary measures such as vaccines and hand-washing.

"I don't think we're seeing any garden variety flu and I haven't cultured anybody with the flu," said Dr. Dave Tayloe of Goldsboro Pediatrics earlier this week. "We're not getting any significant demand from the children we see."

His office has enough of the vaccine on hand, Tayloe said, drawing from a combination of state and private supply.

"We're pretty lucky from that perspective," he said.

Tayloe said his office is getting requests for vaccines as well as promoting it.

"Every child that's in a high-risk group, I'm trying to remind myself to ask so that we don't miss an opportunity to give a child the flu vaccine," he said. "We recommend the flu vaccine to any child with a chronic disease or developmental disability, and of course children with asthma and babies between 6 and 23 months old, following the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control."

The only real way to protect oneself is to be vaccinated, he said. Although flu season is typically considered full force in January and February, Tayloe said he remembered a particularly bad epidemic one December.

At Wayne Memorial Hospital, health professionals are also advocating strongly for people to be vaccinated against the flu.

Dr. Charlie Daniels, a pathologist and medical director of the lab, and his staff offer a "quick flu test," which typically returns results in about 20 minutes. He said his office has already done between 10 and 20 of the tests this season, all negative.

"Right now it's not peak season so most doctors don't order that test until flu shows up in the community and North Carolina," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have only been rare or sporadic cases of influenza. When flu season arrives, he expects his office will do more of the tests.

Betty Smith, manager of employee health services at the hospital, said she has seen more of a demand for the flu vaccine this year.

"In the 10 years I've been here, we have never given as much vaccine as this year," she said.

Although there was a delay in the shipment, the hospital has had an adequate supply, she said. So far, she estimated that 750 doses have been given to volunteers, employees and physicians.

Ms. Smith said that beyond getting vaccinated, the two best things one can do to prevent the virus are frequent hand-washing and avoiding close contact with someone who might have it.

"What we really stress with our employees and volunteers are good hand-washing and to try to maintain a distance of at least three feet from people when they're coughing or sneezing," she said. With an airborne disease, three feet is the guideline, she said. "Even if it's your cousin you haven't seen in a long time, wait on hugging or getting too close."

Waterless soaps and anti-bacterial hand washes are useful and can be kept in a purse or car, she said.

For those 65 or older, the hospital also recommends a pneumonia shot. Once thought to be a one-time vaccination, Ms. Smith said it is now advised to have it every five years.

"You can get it on the same day as the flu shot," she said. "But if you do not, you have to wait 14 days in between."