Mixed message in latest flu report

Jan. 13, 2013 @ 08:00 AM

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its latest report on the rash of flu outbreaks across the country.

That report contains some good news and not-so-good news regarding the outbreak, which continues to spread.

According to CDC, the number of states that have reported flu cases being "widespread" jumped from 41 to 47, however the number of hardest hit states declined from to 24 from 29. The CDC reported that Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina have all dropped off the list of hardest-hit states.

Presently, only California, Hawaii and Mississippi are not reporting widespread flu outbreaks.

Officials with Rutherford Regional Health System (RRHS) said they are continuing to monitor data from the North Carolina State Influenza Surveillance Reports.

"While we are encouraged that this week's information shows a decline in flu-like illness, we have also experienced significant fluctuations in flu-like illness from week to week," RRHS said in a statement.

According to its latest figures, the North Carolina State Influenza Surveillance Reports indicated that there have been a total of 17 flu-related deaths since October 2012 and one in the last reporting week of Dec. 30, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013.

The percentage of flu-related illnesses in North Carolina did decrease to just over 8 percent. During the last week reported, that percentage was over 10.

"Influenza-like illness continues to be reported as widespread geographically by our state officials," RRHS officials said.

With that, hospital officials said they will continue to have restricted visitation at the hospital in Rutherfordton.

There are still no exact figures for the number of those affected by the flu in Rutherford County and, even nationwide, there is still no way of being able to tell just if, and where, the flu outbreak may have peaked.

"Only time will tell how moderate or severe this flu season will be," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a teleconference with reporters this week.

Nationally, the CDC reported in a teleconference this week that at least 112 million flu vaccines have been administered this year. They said that the vaccine was still available but supplies may have run low in some areas.

The Associated Press reported that some shortages of Tamiflu, a prescription medicine used to treat the flu in children. The adult version of the medication is still available.