Flu visits up as other states report widespread outbreaks - WNCN: News, Weather

Flu visits up as other states report widespread outbreaks

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NEW BERN, N.C. -

The flu virus is spreading across the country, and already 10 states are reporting a widespread outbreak.

North Carolina is not one of the ten, but visits for flu-like symptoms in our state are up two and a half times compared to last month, said nurse practitioner Dawn McCabe at the Craven County Health Department.

"In fact, here in North Carolina in the last few weeks, we've had 8 deaths from influenza," a number that is likely to go up, said McCabe.

McCabe says the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, is the most common strain of flu she's seeing this year.

Health department director Scott Harrelson says norovirus is also a problem in the East, especially in Beaufort and Martin counties.

"Norovirus is primarily going to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. Influenza can certainly have some nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, especially in the young, but influenza is primary going to be a respiratory illness," said McCabe.

New Bern resident Alora Vitalis says being sick with the flu put a damper on her Christmas plans with family last week.

"When it get you, it gets you. You just don't feel like moving or doing nothing. Nobody around you, nothing," said Vitalis.

McCabe's advice is to go to call your doctor any time you have symptoms.

"Certainly if they have a fever that lasts more than three days, if they get shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, they need to seek health care right away," said McCabe.

It is advice Vitalis wishes she had taken.

"If they feel sick like I did, don't lay around like I did, get up and go to the hospital. Seriously," said Vitalis.

McCabe also recommends washing your hands often, especially after coughing and sneezing. Vaccinations are available by nasal spray or injection at the Craven County Health Department. They're 25 dollars for adults, she said.

If you take an antiviral medication in the first two days of flu, it can minimize your symptoms, said McCabe.

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