NC Confirms First Flu, Urges Vaccination
North Carolina Health Director Dr. Leah Devlin two days ago said that the North Carolina State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed the state’s first case of flu this season. The flu disease was diagnosed in a 38-year-old Wake County woman, who is recovering at home.
“We know the flu season has begun here in North Carolina, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, it’s time to do so. It’s not too late,” said Dr. Devlin. “Flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu.”
Devlin noted that it shouldn’t be hard to find flu vaccine this year because the supply is plentiful. In fact, a record number of flu vaccine doses should be available this year. “Check with your health care provider or local health department about getting the vaccine,” she said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its recommendations regarding flu vaccine. The CDC now advises all children from six months through 18 years of age be vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination is also recommended for any adults who want to protect themselves from the flu. Adults 50 and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, household contacts of people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, and healthcare workers are particularly encouraged to get vaccinated.
“Increased rates of vaccination could reduce the number of people who suffer from or die from the flu,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Engel, noting that the flu accounts for 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually.
Influenza vaccine contains protection against three strains of flu virus. “This year’s flu vaccine is a good match to the strains of flu virus circulating in the country so far,” said Dr. Engel.
Flu symptoms begin suddenly and may include fever, severe headache, body aches, sore throat and cough. Flu can make a person more susceptible to pneumonia, which can be especially dangerous to people who already suffer from heart or lung disease.
Besides getting your flu shot, you can take other actions to stop spread of the flu and other respiratory diseases:
■Cover your coughs and sneezes.
■Use tissues and throw them away after each use.
■Wash hands often.
■If you have flu symptoms, stay home.