Deadly flu season coming to an end

By: Staff report
Smith

LUMBERTON — The county is in the final days of the typical flu season, but it may be too soon to breathe easier about not coming down with the potentially deadly respiratory illness.

The typical flu season runs from November to March, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, there have been multiple reports that a second wave of flu is building because the number of Influenza B cases have overtaken the number of cases of Influenza A, the dominate flu strain of the current season.

In the week ending March 17, there were 32 positive tests for Influenza A in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. There were 178 positive tests for Influenza B in the same week, the most recent data available. Between Feb. 10 and March 17 the percentage of outpatient cases of the flu dropped from 11 percent to 3 percent.

“Flu activity is decreasing but many states still report widespread flu,” according to the CDC website.

The director of the Robeson County Department of Health cautioned not to read too much in the statistics.

“There was more B than A but that might be because A was down so much,” Smith said. “Typically B exceeds A at the end of the season, so this is a familiar pattern.”

North Carolina was among the last states to see the flu epidemic, so should be last to have it leave, according to Smith. Flu activity should cease in Robeson County by the end of April.

Five Robeson County residents residents have died because of the flu. The flu has claimed 328 lives across North Carolina, according to the latest data available.

Southeastern Health will continue its visitation restrictions through at least the end of this week, according to Amanda Crabtree, Southeastern Health’s public relations coordinator.

The restrictions were put in place on Jan. 5 and dictate that each patient at Southeastern Regional Medical Center can receive only two visitors, who must be 18 years or older, except in the Emergency Department, where only one visitor is allowed per patient. Any clergyman who has registered with Pastoral Care Services and has an SRMC clergy badge is allowed to visit.

Scotland County Health Care System has lifted its visitation restrictions in response to the significant decline in flu cases from the season’s peak in late January. Specifically, children under the age of 12 are once again permitted to visit Scotland Memorial Hospital.

“We want to thank our community members for their patience and cooperation during this past flu season,” said Dr. Cheryl Davis, chief medical officer. “Your assistance helped maintain safety for our patients and visitors.”

Smith
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Staff report