Area flu season is reaching its peak

Published 4:22 am Wednesday, February 18, 2009

By Staff
Widespread activity reported in state
Staff Writer
The flu bug is taking its toll in North Carolina, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC’s Influenza Division, as of Tuesday morning, classified flu activity in North Carolina and 15 other states as widespread. The CDC’s report is based on a weekly influenza surveillance report prepared by division, which gets its estimates from state and territorial epidemiologists.
Flu activity was sporadic in the state when the flu season began in November, said Vanessa Amorocho, a tuberculosis and communicable-disease nurse with the Beaufort County Health Department.
With the flu season peaking this month, more cases have popped up, Amorocho said.
Washington Pediatrics PA has treated three to four flu cases in the past week, said Dr. Deborah Ainsworth, a pediatrician with the practice who expects flu cases in the area to increase.
Ainsworth is optimistic that parents have taken the time to get their children vaccinated.
Dr. Leah Devlin, the state’s health director, said the current flu season is about average when compared to previous seasons.
This season’s flu vaccine has been a “very good match” for various influenza strains, Devlin said. There is plenty of vaccine available throughout the state, said Devlin, who encourages people to get flu shots before it’s too late.
The vaccine is not available at the Beaufort County Health Department.
Anyone in need of a flu shot should contact a local physician, Amorocho said.
In some cases, there has been resistance to the popular vaccine Tamiflu, Amorocho said. The state has recommended that doctors use a two-therapy approach — Tamiflu and Relenza — to combat the virus, Amorocho said.
The state has reported 80 isolated cases of influenza, including one child’s death, to the CDC. A 6-year-old died Feb. 10 of complications from flu. The child’s gender and hometown were not released to protect the privacy of the family.
The flu virus is responsible for about 1,000 deaths a year in North Carolina, Devlin said.
Nationwide, three children have died from influenza this flu season, the CDC said.