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N.C. swine flu costs top $3 million

Posted June 19, 2009

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— North Carolina spent an estimated $3.1 million to $3.3 million battling the swine flu outbreak from late April through mid-June, state officials said Friday.

More than 100 cases of the flu, also known as the H1N1 virus, have been reported statewide. Most cases are in the eastern half of the state, with Wake, Orange and Johnston counties accounting for 42 cases combined.

The state Department of Health and Human Services said H1N1 testing added $1.9 million in personnel costs between April 21 and May 15, as technicians worked several 16-hour days. Having county health departments, regional surveillance teams hospitals and other groups monitor the spread of the virus cost another $750,000, officials said.

Obtaining test kits and laboratory supplies so technicians at the public health lab in Raleigh could test for the virus – local testing provides faster results than sending suspect samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – cost $50,000, and shipping anti-viral medications to counties statewide to treat swine flu cases cost $75,000, officials said.

Officials estimated the state has racked up another $250,000 to $500,000 in expenses battling swine flu since May 15.

The World Health Organization declared swine flu a pandemic last week – the first pandemic declaration in 41 years – because the number of confirmed cases of H1N1 had topped 30,000 and continued to rise across several continents.

In the U.S., the number of swine flu cases exceeds 21,000, and 87 people in the U.S. have died from the illness, according to the CDC.

The last time the state expended as many resources on a public health issue was during the anthrax scare of 2001.

State officials said some of the swine flu costs were covered in the 2008-09 budget, and the state also will use money from the federal government to cover some of the costs.


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  • weasleyes Jun 19, 2009

    Torture numbers enough, and they'll tell you anything you want to hear........

  • grenlyn1 Jun 19, 2009

    I did more by stopping the spread of this virus than the health officials! I kept my hands washed and avoided those who were sick. Now what did they do...? Stand behind a computer and type in new numbers once a week. Pfft. Now they want to convince us they don't have enough money to stay employed. It's called management busters. Deal with it!!!

  • US VET Jun 19, 2009


  • koolady Jun 19, 2009

    Thirty years ago, swine flu would have come and gone without even a report in the paper. A big yawn. Today, money is spent like water. Too many people with PHD's justifying their jobs making mountains out of molehills with taxpayers money.

  • beachboater Jun 19, 2009

    Figures don't lie. BUT, liars can figure!!!

    Sounds like the most inefficient operation of the year. Ooops, forgot aboust TARP and the Stimulus package.

  • colliedave Jun 19, 2009

    I think they should start calling it the HINE flu, because we will be paying for it out of that part of the body.

  • Leftwing Jun 19, 2009

    Healthy skeptic - you and I are paying for those who can't. The same people on the front page of the N and O who will get FREE insulation in their mobile homes as they are low income. Can I say I am tired of paying? REally tired of paying for those who can't.

  • Caveman93 Jun 19, 2009

    I welcome you to the new fleecing of America! I wonder how much we normally spend testing for regular flu strains? That would be zero or am I mistaken?

  • Healthy Skeptic Jun 19, 2009

    Just this week, my 3 boys came down with the flu. Verified Type A. MD didn't want to even test to see if it was H1N1 (Type A variant). And treatment, with Tamiflu, was up to me and my pocketbook. So was that handy little flu test. So, if I'm paying for the flu test AND the treatment. . . who the heck is getting theirs covered by state...er...OUR... money??

  • kurlygirly86 Jun 19, 2009

    Come on WRAL, H1N1. Being the child of a hog farmer I really wish they would stop referring to it as this. This has already hurt the pork industry enough without the news continuing to call it the swine flu. Why not "H1N1 (Swine Flu)," in the story. Everyone will know what it is that way and my family farm can stay in business.