County seeing surge in H1N1 cases

September 15, 2009 4:45:54 PM PDT
On Tuesday afternoon, the health and human services director announced a swine flu vaccine has been approved.Medical experts in Cumberland County are already seeing a surge in H1N1 flu cases.

The health department is already seeing a 20 percent increase.

As the seasonal flu season kicks in on top of active cases of swine flu, doctors are emphasizing washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes in your elbow, staying home if you're sick and most importantly getting shots for both seasonal and swine flu.

"There predicting 40 percent of the work force could be out," Cumberland County Health Director Dr. Buck Wilson said. "If you look around you, 40 percent of everywhere you go could be missing work and this could be having a major impact on what we're doing."

At a press conference at the Cumberland County Health Department Tuesday, doctors said it may be difficult to tell seasonal and swine flu apart.

"Those are exactly the same symptoms as the seasonal flu, meaning fevers, sore throat, cough, runny nose or stuffy nose and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea," Medical Director Dr. Tan-Phu said.

Experts said school aged children are most likely to catch the flu.

That's why school administrators have been spraying down common areas with an agent to help stop the spread of what has already proven to be a deadly virus.

"The CDC's predicting that three times as many people could die from H1N1 as the regular seasonal flu," Wilson said. "We average about 36,000 deaths in the United States each year. And it's important for people to understand this H1N1 needs to be taken seriously."

Doctors said many of the H1N1 deaths so far have occurred in persons whose immune systems were already weakened before they caught the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been telling people to avoid contact with others until a day after the fever breaks. But new research suggests you may need to be careful for a while longer, until the coughing stops.

The latest studies imply people may be contagious longer than the normal flu bug.

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