Flu Season Comes on Strong, Early
Flu season in the United States is off to its earliest start in nearly a decade, and the effects are being felt in Moore County.
“We’re experiencing widespread flu based on the feedback I’m getting from medical providers,” Patty Kempton, nursing director for the Moore County Health Department, said.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst has treated about 150 flu cases at its emergency room, and at least 10 patients have been admitted with the flu.
“The flu activity we’re seeing at Moore Regional, as well as at FirstHealth’s other hospitals, mirrors what the state is reporting,” said Emily Sloan, assistant director of public relations for FirstHealth of the Carolinas. “Flu rates typically start to increase in January, so we’re seeing a rise about a month earlier than previous years.”
FirstHealth announced Tuesday that it was imposing visitor restrictions at Moore Regional, Montgomery Memorial in Troy, and Richmond Memorial in Rockingham:
n Visitors are limited to immediate family.
n No children under the age of 12 are allowed to visit.
n No one with flu-like symptoms is allowed to visit.
“We appreciate the community’s cooperation as we implement visitor restrictions to prevent the spread of flu,” said Jayne Lee, a registered nurse who is director of infection control and patient safety at Moore Regional. “We apologize for the inconvenience that the visitor limitations may cause to family members and friends, but we feel this measure is a necessary precaution to protect patients.”
Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also suffer vomiting and diarrhea.
She added that those not afflicted are “encouraged” to get a flu vaccination.
“Flu vaccinations are widely available at pharmacies and medical providers across the county,” Kempton said.
FirstHealth announced last month that its employees had until the end of the year to get a flu vaccine or be fired.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the primary flu strain circulating this year tends to make people sicker than other types, and it is particularly hard on the elderly.
The good news? CDC officials say more than a third of Americans have been vaccinated, and the vaccine formulated for this year is well-matched to the strains of the virus seen so far.
The last time a conventional flu season started this early was the winter of 2003-04.
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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