Flu season strikes hard locally, in state

Jan. 09, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

Lee County is experiencing a more severe flu season than in previous years, with a steady stream of residents displaying influenza-like symptoms.

There have been 14 flu-related deaths in North Carolina, none in Lee County, since the Nov. 10 start of the influenza season, and medical personnel are urging caution. Flu season ends on March 31.

“We saw a right many [patients with flu-like symptoms] in December and up to now, all with respiratory, flu-like symptoms,” said Central Carolina Hospital Infection Preventionist Cindy Sharpe.

All of the strains have been strain A of the flu virus and covered by the flu vaccine, she said. People should contact their pharmacy or primary care physician to receive the shot.

“We have put our respiratory and cough etiquette into action,” Sharpe said. “We are encouraging visitors to wear a mask and control the spread of the virus by coughing into tissues.”

At Central Carolina Hospital, 96 percent of the staff has been vaccinated, with the remaining 4 percent required to wear a mask, she said. Unlike other area hospitals, they have not restricted visitors’ access but are encouraging sick visitors to stay home or wear a mask.  “We are really pushing hand hygiene,” Sharpe said.

Medicine Park Pharmacy ran out of flu vaccines in early December, according to pharmacist Charles Clifford.

“We’ve talked to other pharmacies, and it looks like everyone has gone through theirs,” he said. “But it’s still not too late to get one.”

There have been many younger people with prescriptions for flu medicine, and it seems to be possibly skipping the older generations, Clifford said.

“Wash hands, wash hands, wash hands,” he said. “Cover your mouth, cough into your arm and sneeze into your arms.”

All types of flu can cause:

• Fever

• Coughing and/or sore throat

• Runny or stuffy nose

• Headaches and/or body aches

• Chills

• Fatigue

People should seek medical care if a they have any of the following symptoms:

• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

• Sudden dizziness

• Confusion

• Severe or persistent vomiting

• Purple or blue discoloration of the lips

• Signs of dehydration

• Seizures

Source: N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.