By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The CDC reports that the flu is currently “widespread” in 26 states including North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Alabama. Locally, the Cherokee Indian Hospital reports that 56 patients were diagnosed with the flu in December 2013.
Sally Sneed Penick, Cherokee Indian Hospital infection preventionist, related that number represents a huge increase as there were 3 total patients in the months of September, October and November. The patients for Cherokee Indian Hospital included Cherokee County, Snowbird and other outpatient clinics.
Penick said that 99 percent of the hospital staff took the flu vaccine this season.
The CDC reports that as of Jan. 3, all 50 states have “reported cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza” and the percentage of those testing positive reached 26.7 percent the week of Jan. 3 – up from 13.3 percent on Dec. 14.
“Flu activity to date has been most intense in the south-central and southeast of the country, although now activity is increasing across the rest of the country as well,” the CDC states. “Most of the viruses characterized so far this season have been 2009 H1N1 viruses, which have circulated worldwide as seasonal flu viruses since the influenza pandemic in 2009.”
The CDC states that the flu spreads “mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.”
For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm.