Combatting influenza

Flu cases rise as health officials stress prevention.
Krystle Wagner
Jan 10, 2013

Janet Dodds received a flu vaccination on Wednesday.

“It’s about protection,” the West Olive woman said.

Dodds doesn't want to add to the 285 to-date confirmed flu cases in Michigan. The state also has four flu-related pediatric deaths caused by this year’s strain.

State laboratories have confirmed 22 cases in Ottawa County, yet flu-like illness cases are greater.

The number of reported flu-like illnesses almost doubled in a month’s time — jumping from 3,036 in November to 5,725 cases last month — said Marcia Knol, epidemiologist for the Ottawa County Health Department.

Officials have said they normally don’t see flu case numbers this high until February.

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North Ottawa Community Hospital Emergency Room Nurse Manager Gretchen Cosby said they’re still seeing double the amount of patients they would normally see this time of year. She said about 25 percent of their patients are coming in with flu-like symptoms that include a fever, cough and sore throat.

The good news, Cosby said, is that the number of patients has decreased from two weeks ago.

Michigan Department of Community Health spokeswoman Angela Minicuci said more than 90 percent of the cases testing positive for influenza in the state have been from one of the strains covered by the vaccination — including H3N2, influenza A/H1N1 2009 and influenza B.

Although more cases of the flu are popping up locally and around the country, Knol said residents shouldn’t worry about a vaccination shortage.

“There’s plenty of vaccination out there,” she assured.

Knol said there’s still a chance that people who are vaccinated could come down with the flu, but they usually experience less severe symptoms. The vaccination takes 10-14 days to become effective.

The Michigan Disease Surveillance System report of Jan. 3 indicated a decrease in individual and aggregate cases, citing schools being on holiday break as a likely factor.

While staff and students were away during a two-week vacation, the Spring Lake Public Schools' custodial staff thoroughly sanitized and cleansed carpets and other areas. That’s part of their daily routine, said Liz Boeve, director of operations for the school district.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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