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H1N1 cases rising

By Art Powell | | April 8, 2010

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Health officials are carefully watching a spike in cases of the pandemic H1N1 flu in the Southeastern United States.

According to ABC News, Georgia has recorded an H1N1 increase, with 40 people admitted to the hospital for the flu during the last week in March.

That is more than in any other state, according to Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the Center for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases and reported at http://abcnews.go.com/Health/SwineFluNews/georgia.

When the CDC conducted a news conference, the first in several weeks to discuss the pandemic, it was largely because of the situation in Georgia, she said. The rate of H1N1 disease overall nationally is lower on average than last fall.

The increase in Georgia is “unusual, and we did want to spotlight that,” she said.

A campaign to immunize personnel at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany has been underway since the federal government decided H1N1 could reach pandemic proportions over the winter season, and the vaccine is still available at the Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany.

“The president declared a national emergency and the H1N1 vaccine was made available to protect the country,” said Navy Cmdr. Chidi U. Ekenna-Kalu, officer in charge, Naval Branch Health Clinic Albany. “At that time, no one knew how bad it could get.”

Immunizations are available for everyone on base who are eligible. Military personnel were required to receive the vaccine, and the service was extended to qualified dependents, civilian employees and contractors working here.

“We still have the vaccine available,” Ekenna-Kalu said.

The spike in H1N1 cases in Georgia demonstrates the fact that it is new and hasn’t been studied as extensively as other “older” viruses.

“The usual influenza dies down about this time of year, but I don’t think anyone can say with any degree of certainty when this will go away. There could be a period of dormancy, then people may resurface with infections. So, it’s pretty much an unknown,” she added.

For more information on this issue, call the Naval Branch Health Clinic at (229) 639-7884 or (229) 639-7886.


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