03/03/14 — Doctors: Flu bug, it's not over yet

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Doctors: Flu bug, it's not over yet

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 3, 2014 1:46 PM

Flu season is not over, although in recent weeks cases have leveled off across the state, with officials still calling for preventive measures and awareness.

Influenza and flu-like symptoms can still present themselves into the spring and the ailment is nothing to sneeze at -- it can be life-threatening, particularly for those with compromised immune systems, the very young and the elderly.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, between Feb. 9-15 there were seven flu-associated deaths in the state, bringing the total since mid October to 81.

Locally, health officials say they are poised to handle patients who show up.

"We're not seeing anything right now," said Josa Raynor-Vaughn, communicable disease program director at the Wayne County Health Department. "The hospital may be seeing more influenza-like illnesses out there.

"As far as our clinics are concerned, we don't see any referrals (for flu)."

The department's flu clinic will be seeing patients and giving out flu vaccines at least until May, Ms. Raynor-Vaughn said.

"Anybody's welcome to come from 7 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (Monday-Thursday)," she said. "As long as we've got it, we're going to give it out."

Flu is not the only communicable disease that has ebbed recently, she added.

"Even our TB (tuberculosis) statistics are low right now. That's a good thing," she said. "(Flu) is still out there. We want people to come in and get a shot. Nothing beats preventive measures."

Georgia Dees, director, public relations at Wayne Memorial Hospital, said there has been nothing out of the ordinary in recent weeks.

"We have treated patients with flu, H1N1, pneumonia and shingles this year, but we have not experienced an increase in any of those types of cases this year, according to infection control," she said.

Of course, there are always different strains of sickness that still spread, whether or not they fall into the category of flu.

"Fortunately, there has been no increase in cases of what commonly is referred to as 'crud' or anything else right now at Wayne Memorial Hospital," Mrs. Dees said. "That means no recent increase in admissions for that sort of thing, either."

Likewise at Goldsboro Pediatrics, said Nola Claiborne.

"We have been giving the flu vaccines since the second week in September, so six months, and there has been a better uptake on the vaccine," she said, attributing that to "people are more comfortable in being immunized.

"There's an occasional case now and then but we have not reported any severe cases. Just the normal occasional upper respiratory virus, just the normal stuff this time of year."

The recommended precaution to avoiding sickness remains the same across the board -- frequent hand-washing.

"Just the basics can save you a bunch," Ms. Claiborne said. "Especially for those with children, during the school year, it's a very important thing to cover the basics."