Flu widespread across the state

February 20, 2008 9:00:00 PM PST
Doctors offices are packed across the Triangle, full of children suffering from the flu.

New figures released Thursday; show the flu season is only getting worse.

Health officials say the flu is widespread across the state. More than five percent of health care patients across North Carolina are complaining of flu symptoms.

It is the highest number in four years, but at Wake Med the flu figures are much higher.

Five-month-year-old, Mariah Virgil is one of many patients keeping Wake Med busy treating the flu.

"This morning, she woke up with a temperature of 100.6. And since we've come in, it's escalated to 103, which is pretty high," Mariah's Mother, Ebony Virgil said.

In January, 17 percent of Wake Med's ER patients came in complaining of influenza-like symptoms. Now, 30 percent are showing up with some kind of flu bug.

"Flu is rampant," Wake Med Doctor Robert Park said.

This year's flu season is complicated by the flu vaccine which is not matching this year's flu strain.

The vaccine is normally 90 percent effective. This year, however, it is working only 40 percent of the time.

ER physicians like Park usually get a flu vaccine, but this year, doctors are getting sick as well.

"I got the vaccine. I'm pretty positive I brought flu home. I had it. I'm pretty convinced I did give it to my family," Park said.

Doctor Park says parents should think carefully before bringing their child to the hospital in this kind of flu season.

"I know there's a lot of flu in that waiting room. And am I going to expose my kid to that? I personally would not," Park said. "However, if my child is sick, if they are persistently vomiting, they're short of breath, they're dizzy, anything like that, I'd be the first to bring them in."

With the flu vaccine not being as effective this year, health officials say people should still get the flu vaccine anyway.

Flu season generally runs through the end of April and the numbers so far suggest the flu bug this year has not hit its peak.


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