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Flu Season Still Widespread in High Country

Graph found here.

By Jesse Wood

The flu continues to be widespread in the High Country and beyond.

“We think this is the peak, but we haven’t started crusting down yet,” said Gillian Baker, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention noted in its latest available weekly flu index report, documenting the seventh week of flu season, ending Feb. 18, that influenza A was the most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories.

Baker noted that influenza A subtype is mostly what Appalachian Regional Healthcare System facilities are seeing, along with some flu-type B, some RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and other GI (gastrointestinal) illnesses. Being the stomach flu, GI isn’t so much respiratory in nature as the influenza A, B and RSV viruses.

RSV, Baker noted, is primarily being seen with young and elderly patients.

Flu symptoms include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuff nose, headaches, body aches, chills, fatigue and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

According to the N.C. DHHS flu information page, providers have reported 44 flu deaths from Oct. 2 to Feb. 18 to the N.C. Division of Public Health. From Feb. 12 to Feb. 18, the department documented 10 new deaths.

State health officials tweeted out this fact recently: “The time from when a person is exposed to #flu virus to when symptoms begin is about 1 – 4 days, with an average of 2 days.”

The flu virus mainly spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing or touching an object infected with the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System, which is discouraging anyone with flu or flu-like symptoms from visiting healthcare facilities, recommends the following to prevent catching or spreading the flu:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. After coughing or sneezing, wash or sanitize your hands.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
  • If you get sick with flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
  • Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.

CDC: What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

For more information about the flu, visit www.flu.gov/ or www.cdc.gov/flu.