Health Team

Incidence of Flu Falls Statewide

Posted March 6, 2008 11:20 a.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2008 9:53 a.m. EST

— The flu may be abating in North Carolina, according to the state's most recent report about illnesses.

In the week ending March 1, healthcare providers reported 4.95 percent of their patients had flu-like symptoms, down from a high of 6.25 percent in mid-February.

Public health officials warn that the flu season is far from over, however.

Officials with the state Department of Health and Human Services urged people to get a flu shot and to 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," a spokeswoman 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 of flu used to make the vaccine distributed this year are different from the viruses 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 your 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.