Georgia, South Carolina list flu status as sporadic so far

In this photograph taken by AP Images for the American Lung Association in Colorado, Olympic Gold Medalist and spokesperson for the Faces of Influenza campaign, Kristi Yamaguchi, got her annual influenza vaccination at the American Lung Association in Colorado's flu clinic in Greenwood Village, Colo, Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010. Influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older.

South Carolina has its first lab-confirmed case of flu this flu season, and Georgia has already had a couple of people hospitalized because of flu, the state health departments said.  The latest FluView released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the two states are among 24 states reporting sporadic cases of flu, the lowest level of activity, just above no activity.

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.

For the week ending Oct. 16, CDC has 24 states at sporadic activity status and 26 that reported no activity. Overall, only 3.6 percent of samples tested so far nationally were positive for flu, according to FluView.

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, in addition to 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 influenza A viruses were approximately 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,” Beasley said. “And it is still by far the best way to prevent the spread of the flu.”


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