• 37°

Flu infection rates in Rowan lower than national, regional average

The flu in Rowan County isn’t quite as severe as the national average, but local statistics still place the virus at a concerning level, according to doctors at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center.

Starting on Jan. 2, Rowan Medical Center enacted a policy preventing anyone younger than 18 from visiting hospitals in the Novant system. Several other hospital systems in North Carolina adopted similar policies following a Centers for Disease Control report that placed the flu at epidemic levels.

The latest CDC weekly flu update, which ended Dec. 27, stated 30.4 percent of flu tests nationwide came back positive. For the same time period, Region Four, which includes North Carolina, had a slightly lower positive test rate — 24.5 percent.

Statistics provided by Rowan Medical Center were for a larger time period, but showed a 21 percent positive test rate. From Dec. 1, 2014 to Jan. 5, Rowan Medical Center conducted 996 influenza or flu tests, according to Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Tom Trahey. Trahey said no one has died at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center during this year’s flu season.

The overall rate of infection for the flu may be higher than usual, but the virus’ spread isn’t entirely out of character for a typical season, said Novant Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Abayomi Agbebi.

“Even though we’re at epidemic levels, it’s not out of character for influenza season entirely,” Agbebi said.

The influenza virus is still spreading as it typically would, he said. As a result, the usual tactics for combating the virus are helpful, he said.

“The biggest thing we like to say and simplest thing is hand washing,” he said. “Hand washing and hand sanitizer are really the big things and the first things to do. Those simple things are still the first steps you want to take to prevent the virus.”

He said young children and adults over the age of 65 comprise an overwhelming majority of positive tests for influenza, which is normal for flu season.

A contributing factor to the wide spread nature of this year’s flu season could be a mismatch between the virus and the flu vaccination, but Agbebi still recommended flu shots as a preventative measure.

He said the flu shot is usually based on which virus is circulating in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It’s a scientific guess, but there’s a chance that you will not get a good match,” he said. “This year, we don’t have as good of a match as we have before, but we’re still within that range of effectiveness.”

Even with a slight mismatch in the flu shot and the actual virus, Agbebi said flu symptoms would be noticeably less severe with a shot.

“Even if it’s not a good match, if you do get the flu shot and get influenza, the symptoms will more likely be less than if you didn’t get a shot at all,” he said. “It’s an important thing to put out there. Even if you think it’s not as affective, when you do get sick it’s not as severe.”

The ban on children under 18 will be re-evaluated periodically, Trahey said. For the time being, he said children under 18 are not allowed to visit patients in the hospital, except for special circumstances.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

Comments

High School

Photo gallery: Carson goes undefeated, wins 3A state championship

Nation/World

Europe staggers as infectious variants power virus surge

Nation/World

Biden, Democrats prevail as Senate OKs $1.9 trillion virus relief bill

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

UPDATED: Eight new COVID-19 deaths, 203 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds

Local

Salisbury Station one of several ‘hot spots’ included in NCDOT rail safety study

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, school considering options

News

Iredell County votes to move Confederate memorial to cemetery

Nation/World

Lara Trump may have eyes on running for a Senate seat

Local

Rowan among counties in Biden’s disaster declaration from November floods

Local

PETA plans protest at Salisbury Police Department on Friday

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, charter revoked

Coronavirus

29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with drug crimes

News

Nesting no more: Eagles appear to have moved on from Duke’s Buck Station

Business

The Smoke Pit leaving downtown Salisbury for standalone building on Faith Road

Education

Shoutouts