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Flu bug bites Middlesex

by Larry S. Chowning

In many parts of the country and for thousands of people, the 2013 winter will be remembered as the “year of the flu.”

There is presently a flu alert in the entire state of Virginia and reported flu (influenza) cases are well above the national norm. In many states, the illness has reached epidemic proportions.

The official doctor’s guide to the flu lists symptoms as follows: fever 100 degrees or greater, muscle aches, chills, extreme fatigue, headaches, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, or nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Even though we are at the midway mark of the flu season, doctors and health officials are strongly recommending that people still get flu shots. With a flu shot, a person is 62% less likely to get the flu, according to state health officials.

Williams said her office has almost used all of the flu vaccine it was allocated. The Hartfield office currently has only enough vaccine to service “high risk patients,” such as the elderly and very young.

Of the 146 flu-like cases RGH has treated since December 2, 2012, 45 cases (31%) tested positive for the flu. In past years, the positive count has been between 5% and 8%. 

“This season’s flu is not a lot different from other severe flu seasons,” said Dr. Gross. “This one is not quite as bad as two years ago when H-1/N-1 (swine flu) made so much news. H1/N1 affected children and the elderly really bad. This year’s flu does impact the young and elderly, but not as bad as it did two years ago. This flu is across the board and impacting every age.”

Middlesex Assistant School Superintendent Michael Cromartie said he spoke with school nurses in all three county public schools and has determined that flu has impacted less than 10% of the school population. 

“We have had students with flu-like symptoms who have had to go home, but we are not sure who actually had the flu and who did not,” he said. “The nurses feel that it has been slightly higher than on an average year. But, I guess we’ve been lucky it hasn’t been worse,” said Cromartie.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 01.16.2013

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