In West Virginia, Berkeley County Health Department officials told county leaders Thursday that the severity of the flu season in the community appears evident.
The health department received 184 reports of influenza-like illness from doctors’ offices in December, compared to a total of 100 from January to November 2012, according to Health Department Administrator Bill Kearns.
The health department has provided more than 4,000 flu vaccinations since September and Kearns anticipated the total could exceed 5,000 for the season because their flu vaccine clinics have been just as busy as they were in September and October.
“The flu shots are very effective,” Kearns said. The severity and the early arrival of the outbreak has been the difference this year, Kearns said.
State Public Health Commissioner Marian Swinker told The Associated Press Friday that flu-like symptoms are widespread, with more than 15,000 people telling doctors they were ill last month and nearly 4,400 reporting they’re sick so far this month.
As of Friday, 1,393 case of influenza had been confirmed.
Swinker encouraged people to get flu shots and take other precautions, such as washing hands frequently, covering sneezes and coughs, and discarding used tissues.
Swinker also urged those who are sick to stay home from work or school to prevent the spread of illness.
County Councilman James “Jim” Whitacre noted during Thursday’s council meeting that the Veterans Affairs Medical Center near Martinsburg provides a drive-through flu shot clinic.
More information about the Berkeley County Health Department’s flu vaccine clinics and other services is on the Internet at www.bchealthdept.org.