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flu is bad

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
The flu that’s spreading across the state and nation is bad, but it’s as much a sign of the season as anything.
“It’s just typical for this time of year,” said Rowan County Health Director Leonard Wood.
Still, on Thursday, N.C. Health Director Leah Devlin issued a warning concerning the flu and urging precautions.
According to Devlin, statewide, health-care providers reported that for the week that ended Feb. 2, almost 5 percent of their patients had influenza-like symptoms.
Such symptoms include a temperature of more than 100 degrees and a cough or sore throat.
That almost-5 percent is higher than the peak for last year’s flu season, but still lower than the 7.7 percent reached in mid-December 2003.
Devlin said it’s not too late to be vaccinated against the flu, and encouraged individuals to do so.
“There are other vital actions you can take to limit the spread of flu infection,” she said. “Wash your hands. Cover your coughs and sneezes. If you are sick, stay home.”
At Salisbury Pediatric Associates, Dr. Wayne Koontz said he recently saw a nationwide posting of areas where the flu is spreading.
“It’s hot everywhere,” Koontz said.
Still, Koontz agreed with Wood that the situation with the flu is one that’s repeated annually about this time.
“We’re not in an epidemic situation, but we’re seeing it pick up,” Koontz said of the number of flu cases being treated at Salisbury Pediatrics.
He said the important thing for patients and their parents to remember is to seek treatment early. Koontz said that while the flu typically lasts a week to 10 days, early treatment can shorten its duration.
He said there is medicine available that can curtail the flu’s severity.
“The trouble we have,” Koontz said, “is that people usually sit around for a couple of days before they come in to have anything done. By then, they’re past the window of opportunity.”
Koontz said there’s always a concern that the flu will develop into more serious problems ó pneumonia and sinus infections, included.
He said thus far this year, that hasn’t been the case, with the majority of individuals with the flu responding well to treatment.
Koontz said flu germs are usually spread more by hand contact than through airborne transmission. For that reason, he agreed with the state health director and others that simple steps can go far toward reducing the likelihood that an individual will get the flu.
“Wash your hands,” Koontz said. “Soap and water is fine.”
He said doctors at Salisbury Pediatrics have treated 50 to 75 patients with the flu thus far this year. Koontz said that in years past, when the flu has been at its worse, he’s seen weeks where they’ve treated 400 to 500 patients with the disease.
“This year it’s bad, but it’s nothing to frighten anyone about,” he said.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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