Flu Facts: H1N1 activity declining
For the Nevada Appeal
Editor’s Note: This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages throughout the flu season. Readers interested in knowing more about this topic are urged to visit http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu or http://www.flu.gov
Q: Is the H1N1 flu season finally over?
A: We think so, but it is hard to tell. This flu season, called 2009 H1N1 even though it includes some of 2010, appears to have peaked in our area in October and November. The good news is that the most recent FluView (a weekly flu report done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that in the United States, H1N1 activity is relatively low. However, some regions are still experiencing a slightly elevated rate of flu-related doctor visits compared to the previous week, and flu activity – whether H1N1 or seasonal – is expected to continue for weeks.
FluView reports visits to doctors for influenza-like illness (ILI), defined as the patient having a temperature of 100 degrees or greater and a cough and/or sore throat absent a known cause other than flu. It also reports laboratory-confirmed hospitalizations and deaths. The CDC reminds us that these indicators are but a mere fraction of actual H1N1 activity. Anyone interested can access these reports at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/.
In the week of Feb. 14-20, U.S. flu activity levels were very similar to previous reporting periods: relatively low and level. The number of deaths from flu was “below the epidemic threshold,” but three pediatric deaths were among them.
It seems we have reason to think the season is winding down, but public health officials everywhere are still watching carefully. Experts at the CDC continue to remind us that vaccination is the number-1 best defense against the flu. Vaccinations protect oneself, one’s family and one’s community. It is still wise to protect yourself by getting your H1N1 vaccination now while the illness continues to circulate
On Feb. 22, a key U.S. Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee recommended that protection against the H1N1 virus be included in the 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine starting this fall. The World Health Organization made the same recommendation. In fall, 2010, only one influenza vaccination will be required because H1N1 will be included with the seasonal vaccine. However, as is always the case, younger children who have never had a seasonal vaccine will still need two doses.
CARSON CITY AREA H1N1 VACCINE CLINICS
There is no charge for H1N1 vaccinations
Where: Carson City Health and Human Services, 900 East Long Street, Carson City
When: 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m. Thursdays (closed for lunch).
• Pam Graber is the public information officer for Carson City Health and Human Services.