Flu on rise statewide
Posted January 6, 2009 2:21 p.m. EST
Updated January 6, 2009 6:53 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — Flu activity is accelerating in North Carolina, state public health officials said Tuesday.
Hospital emergency departments and about 30 of the 77 health care providers across the state who participate in the state’s Influenza Sentinel Surveillance Program reported an increase in flu-like illness during the past week. The State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed six cases to date.
In North Carolina, flu season normally begins to increase after Christmas and usually peaks in late February or early March.
“The best way to prevent getting and spreading the flu is to get vaccinated,” State Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin said in a statement. “It’s not too late; the flu season is really just getting started here. Contact your health care provider or local health department about getting vaccinated.”
Wake County Human Services will offer free flu shots from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays at Clinic E in the Public Health Center, at 10 Sunnybrook Road in Raleigh.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises flu shots for all children from 6 months old through 18 years old. Vaccination is also recommended for adults 50 and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, household contacts of people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and health care workers.
Nationally, flu accounts for 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths annually.