South Carolina has its first lab-confirmed case of flu, and Georgia has already had a couple of people of hospitalized due to flu, the state health departments said today.
Georgia reported two hospitalizations, both in persons over age 50, and no deaths for the week of Oct. 10-16, the latest report, spokeswoman Ravae Graham said.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Laboratories confirmed it has a case of influenza A H3-type strain from a sample taken from a child in Richland County. The state has to send it to the lab at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine whether it is the H3N2 strain expected to circulate this year that is included in the vaccine, DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley said.
Both states are listing their flu status as sporadic, the next level of activity up from no activity, based on the number of people who showed up at clinics with influenza-like illness.
Influenza experts had wondered whether the pandemic influenza A H1N1 virus that predominated last flu season would “crowd out” other flu viruses, as has happened after past pandemics. However, evidence from the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere, as well as a few cases in the U.S. over the summer, showed the H3N2 virus was continuing to survive. That is significant, health officials have said, because H3N2 seasons usually see higher levels of severe outcomes, such as hospitalization and death. Of the very small number of samples tested and antigenically typed by CDC so far, the number of influenza A viruses were roughly split between H1N1 and H3N2. Both were included in this year’s vaccine.
“It just reinforces why it is we encourage folks to get vaccinated,” Beasley said. “The vaccine right now is matching up very well. And it is still by far the best way to prevent the spread of the flu.”
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