Health Team

State Health Chief: Flu Widespread in N.C.

Posted February 7, 2008 9:57 a.m. EST
Updated February 7, 2008 7:38 p.m. EST

— State Health Director Leah Devlin announced Thursday that statistics verify what many people knew – the flu is widespread across North Carolina.

That means residents should taking steps to prevent infection, Devlin said.

“It isn’t too late to vaccinate,” Devlin said. “Many health departments and health-care providers still have vaccine available."

She added, "There are other vital actions you can take to limit the spread of flu infection. Wash your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes. If you are sick, stay home.”

The state monitors influenza-like illness during the flu season. Flu-like illness is a temperature of 100 degrees or greater accompanied by a cough or sore throat.

Seventy-six health-care providers statewide report the number of people they are seeing with those symptoms every week. Based on those reports, public health experts determine how the flu is progressing across the state.

The latest report, issued Thursday, is for the week that ended Saturday. Health-care providers reported that 4.87 percent of their patients had flu-like illness. That is higher than the peak for last year’s flu season.

Last year, the peak came in late December, with 3 percent of patients reporting flu-like illness.

The 4.87 percent figure for this year is higher than that the peaks for the four previous seasons. However, it is still far below the record-high 7.7 percent recorded during mid-December 2003.