Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 14, 2014

Health officials: Cases of H1N1 flu continue to spike

By CHARLES OWENS
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Health officials say cases of the dangerous H1N1 strain of the flu are still increasing in Mercer County.

As of Monday, officials were reporting 309 confirmed cases of the flu. That’s up from 194 last week. And the majority of those cases involve the H1N1 strain, also known as the 2009 pandemic strain that was formerly referred to as swine flu.

“It is still on the rise and trending upward,” Sandy Davis, RN BSN with the Mercer County Health Department said of the number of local flu cases.

Davis said those who haven’t received a flu shot to date should consider doing so now. Flu season in the region will normally peak around February. And it still takes up to two weeks to build up a full immunity to the flu after receiving a shot.

Davis said the H1N1 strain of the flu appears to be targeting children and young adults more so than the elderly. She said local hospitals are reporting an increase in the number of individuals seeking treatment.

Princeton Community Hospital announced last week that due to the large number of adults and children being admitted to the hospital with the flu and other respiratory illnesses, the public is being asked not to visit the hospital unless absolutely necessary. And those who are exhibiting signs or symptoms of respiratory illnesses are being asked to wear a mask.

“I know Princeton’s numbers have really had a sharp increase,” Davis said. “And so has Bluefield. Both hospitals have had a sharp increase in the number of flu cases.”

Davis said those who have symptoms of the flu should visit their local doctor or physician’s clinic to receive treatment.

“You feel miserable,” Davis said of the influenza symptoms. “You feel achy and hurt all over with stuffy head and nose. You get the chills. The symptoms are more extreme than a normal cold.”

Davis said some who have received a flu shot are still getting the flu this year — but their symptoms are milder and less extreme.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com