Local News

N.C. Experiencing Near-Record Flu Season

Posted February 28, 2008
Updated February 29, 2008

— Public health officials said this flu season is the second-worst since North Carolina began keeping records in 2001.

The 76 monitored health-care providers reported the number of patients with influenza-like symptoms has more than tripled since early January – from 1.1 percent to 6.25 percent for the week ending Feb. 22.

At the beginning of February, 4.5 percent of patients reported flu-like symptoms, defined as a temperature of 100 degrees or greater and cough or sore throat.

North Carolina's record high flu season was recorded in mid-December 2003, when 7.7 percent of the patients reported influenza-like illness.

"I've seen a lot more cases this year than in the previous years that I can remember," Dr. Abid Shah, an emergency care physician with Franklin Regional Medical Center. More than a third of its patients in the past week had the flu, Shah said.

Officials with the state Department of Health and Human Services urged people to get the flu shot and do simple things to help prevent getting the flu.

"It's something you should have learned and probably have forgotten from kindergarten, but washing your hands constantly can prevent the spread of the flu and a whole lot of other diseases," Debbie Crane, a spokeswoman for the agency, said.

Workers said the ABC's of hand-washing are a top priority at the Appletree Daycare Center in Raleigh, which has been hit hard by the flu bug. Toys are also sanitized after children have played with them.

"Our children have been out for three to five days," Carolyn Diggers, with Appletree, said. "We've also had some teachers out in all our facilities."

The flu is widespread in 49 states, according to the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Two of the three strains in the flu vaccine distributed this year are ineffective against the virus circulating through the state, health officials said. Nationwide, the vaccine protects against 40 percent of the virus strains out this year, according to the CDC

Federal officials said the vaccine will be overhauled and the two ineffective strains replaced for the next round of the vaccine, set to be distributed in the fall. Doctors have to determine early in the year which strains to include long before they find out what flu strains appear in the winter.

Until then, doctors urge people to take precautions to prevent the spread of the flu:

  • Wash you hands, wash your hands, and wash your hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes.
  • If you have flu symptoms, seek medical care. There are prescription drugs that can relieve flu symptoms.
  • If you are sick, stay home.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • jajs Mar 3, 2008

    water "flushes" the kidneys every bit as well as beer (alcohol dehydrates you btw) and tamiflu only lessens the severity of symptoms if you take it within 36 hours of onset of symptoms (it's useless, expensive after that and it tastes awful)

  • hi_i_am_wade Mar 3, 2008

    Let me get this straight, doctors. You say that it is very important for us to get flu shots, yet quite often the flu shots are not for the flu people getting. So if the flu shots cannot help for the flu going around, why are you telling us to get a flu shot?

    I've been around lots of people with the flu and bad colds. Here is what I've done differently this year and I think it helped: I've been eating more fruit, drinking more juice, and having a little bit of beer (one glass) almost every day. I also have been drinking more tea. The beer flushes your kidneys, the juice and fruit contains vitamins, and tea contains anti-oxidants. I also have a soda only once a week. I also wash my hands more.

    Also, make sure your kids get sick while they are young; when I was young, I got everything that went around, but now I rarely get anything. Conversely, I've seen kids who never got sick and they are now sickly as adults. If you overprotect your kids, you are doing them a disservice.

  • Space Mountain Mar 3, 2008

    "Two of the three strains in the flu vaccine distributed this year are ineffective against the virus circulating through the state, health officials said."

    Good job!

  • patriotsrevenge Feb 28, 2008

    snizzake, as a microbiologist, I can say your post is the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a very long time. GET VACCINATED. Thanks for the laugh though.

  • Funky Neighbor LEE Feb 28, 2008

    This crazy bug has crawled in my ear and is racking my body and brain like nothing has in 30 years. I went to the Doc the day after I came down with it and came home with Tammy (Tamiflu). My flu test came back negative but if they can miss the flu type shot possibly the test is limited in it's ability.

    Massive fever, sweats, chills, barfing, dizzy, aching from head to toe, weak, tired. I'm on day five of mine and if I'm better it's only by 5%.

    Calling it "flu symptoms" since maybe they can't tag it as the flu as they know it but whatever it is, it is massivly contagious and very unpleasant.

    I'm crossing my fingers to get better buuutt it''ss harrddd tooo typppe liiikkee thatttt... ...fnLEE

  • gopanthers Feb 28, 2008

    Didn't I hear not to long ago (correct me if I'm wrong) that the flu shot was not effective this year and that was part of the widespread problem with the flu?? If that is true why are they urging people to get it? That is if I heard what I think I heard correctly.

  • justjean Feb 28, 2008

    My brother is a PA and he told me that each year the flu shot contains flu vaccine for only the most frequently seen strains of the flu virus for that season. So each year it changes, just like the viruses. So to say that you dimish your immunities by getting the flu shot is bunk. The very young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems should definitely get the flu shot. Healthy people are probably o.k. to go without and let their bodies fight the virus. I haven't had the flu since the first year I moved here back in '91, but I got it this year. Went to the doc and got some Tamiflu...that stuff is great!!

  • snizzake Feb 28, 2008

    SIMPLE SOLUTION... don't take the flu shot! I haven't ever had the flu shot and I also haven't had the flu since I don't know when. when you over-medicate, especially children, you can seriously diminish your own, or your child's own, natural immunities. your body gets used to medication taking care of sicknesses and disease, when you should be developing your own fighting white blood cells that will naturally match or beat the viruses and bacteria infections. medications are developed only for specific types and characteristics of sicknesses seen in a lab, so that when that flu bug or cold bug mutates, the medication no longer affects it. only your body can create the more exact match for the flu. just eat well, get rest, and help your body build defenses itself.

  • Evil one Feb 28, 2008

    Best to pull your shirt over your mouth when you have to cough or sneeze. Much more sanitary than using your hand. I still recomend using your finger to pick your nose.

  • US VET Feb 28, 2008

    Fortunely I don't ever get sick.. I always get my flu shot. My wife says that it isn't the shot it's just that jerms can't live in alcohol...