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Flu cases spike in Wilson

Wilson Daily Times - 1/2/2020

Jan. 2--Over the last week, Wilson Medical Center charted a significant increase in the number of positive flu cases. Of those tested, 19% were positive for flu compared to only 5% the week prior, health officials said.

Flu cases are also high across the state right now, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Flu season typically spikes in December and January.

Sydney Wilkinson, Wilson Medical Center's infection prevention coordinator, said the hospital hasn't admitted any children to the hospital, but there are a few who have been transferred to other facilities related to influenza-like illness.

Wilkinson said of those testing positive for flu last week, 8% were individuals under age 18. She said the majority of patients hospital officials have seen through the emergency department were not admitted. But there have been several admitted related to complications with the flu.

Wilkinson said staff members are still seeing positive cases of RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus. However, those positive cases decreased from 50% the week prior to 26.5% positive results last week.


Wilkinson said up until last week, flu cases seen at the hospital were primarily influenza B, which is a slightly different trend compared to year's past.

"While last week we continued to see primarily influenza B, there was an increase in the number of cases positive for influenza A," Wilkinson said.

She said flu trends for this year started to spike earlier than the last few years based on information collected at the state level.

"We continue to see increasing numbers," Wilkinson said. "Last week, the flu definitely became more widespread throughout our community, and based on the CDC, flu is considered to be widespread throughout North Carolina."

According to the CDC, national levels of flu-like illness continue to increase. Nationally, the agency estimates that the flu has caused at least 4.6 million flu illnesses, 39,000 hospitalizations and 2,100 deaths so far this season.


Wilkinson said the hospital continues to monitor its numbers weekly along with information collected from the state as well as the CDC to ensure that employees are using best practices to prevent the spread of influenza.

"Wilson Medical Center did go to flu restrictions about two weeks ago based on the rising numbers throughout the community," Wilkinson said.

Those flu restrictions mean children under 12 are not permitted in patient care areas and visitors experiencing any cold or flu-like symptoms are not to visit the hospital.

"While we always like to welcome visitors and understand they are a vital piece of the recovery process, we want to ensure that we are promoting a healthy environment for the patients healing, which is why we ask that visitors not visit the hospital if experiencing flu-like symptoms unless they are seeking care," she said.

Masks are located at all hospital entry points for those seeking care and experiencing flu-like symptoms to assist in preventing the flu from spreading.

And it's not too late to get a flu shot that is offered at most primary care practices and pharmacies.

"Remember that the best way to assist in prevention of the flu is by receiving the influenza vaccine," Wilkinson said. "While it may not always completely prevent the flu, it has been shown that by receiving the vaccine, (it) can lessen the severity of influenza."

Frequent handwashing also helps to prevent the influenza virus from spreading.


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