Flu fight begins
Dec 07, 2012 (The Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Flu's aches and pains are crowding doctor's offices, prompting school absences and missed work time earlier than ever this year, according to national health officials.
And Cleveland County is not immune.
"This is my third day out of work over it," Selina D. Grantt posted on The Star's Facebook page. "Toward the end, it started acting like the stomach bug, too."
Several people in North Carolina have already died from the flu this season, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts this will be one of the worst flu seasons on record.
'It was a nightmare'
Cleveland Regional Medical Center experienced a sudden uptick late this week in the number of visitors suffering from flu symptoms.
"In the last 24 hours, we have seen a definite increase, so we'll be monitoring it very closely," said Dotty Leatherwood, vice president of communications. "We have lots of precautions in place to prevent the spread of the flu."
Heidee Cottle Lail said the flu made its way through her house -- with all four of her children experiencing the flu.
"It was a nightmare," Lail posted on The Star's Facebook page. "I think my husband may have it, but so far I'm OK. Praise God, because who would care for them "
'Schools are reporting more absences'
Cleveland County Schools reported a significant increase in the number of student absences in the past week -- at schools throughout the county.
"Our schools are reporting more absences from illnesses in addition to flu -- students and staff hit by allergies, strep throat, sinus infections and stomach viruses," said Donna Carpenter, public information officer for the school system. "Our nurses are being proactive to encourage staff to maintain hand-washing and to encourage other things that will prevent the spreading of germs."
'It's now year-round'
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises a flu vaccination is the most effective way to prevent getting sick.
"Flu season used to be October to February, but CDC says it's now year-round," said Kim Crane, communicable disease and prevention nursing supervisor for the Cleveland County Health Department. "We used to cut off giving flu shots in spring, but not anymore. We have people coming in still in April and May."
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Matthew Tessnear at 704-669-3331, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @MatthewTessnear.
How do you know you have it
Symptoms include fever, muscle or body aches, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue and, for some, vomiting and diarrhea.
Health officials advise you visit your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
-- Young people, pregnant women and the elderly are at highest risk for the flu.
-- 25,000 nationwide and nine in North Carolina died of flu symptoms during the 2011-12 flu season.
-- About 112 million Americans have been vaccinated against the flu so far for this flu season.
How do you best prevent it
-- Get vaccinated if 6 months or older.
The Cleveland County Health Department offers flu vaccines free to those without insurance that covers the procedure.
-- Wash your hands.
-- Stay away from those with flu-like symptoms.
-- Stay home if you have flu-like symptoms to prevent their spread to others.
Source: Cleveland County Health Department, Centers for Disease Control
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