H1-N1 infections down, but Health Officials fear spread

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The holiday brings so many strangers and family members together, that the Virginia Department of Health says there may be a resurgence of the swine flu virus just as it's going away. With the holiday now upon us, doctors say it's a recipe for infection.

"It's not just the traveling, it's the shopping that comes afterwards," said Dr. Kenneth Lucas, Patient First.

The long Thanksgiving weekend is jamming airports, train stations, and malls with people who might otherwise avoid the H1-N1 virus. The good news is that infection appears to be trending down.

New numbers from the state show only 4% of all healthcare visits last week were for flu-like illness. That's down from October's high of 15%, but still more than triple the normal rate. Doctors say there's, at least, a chance it can creep back up after the holiday.

"It just makes sense that the more people mixing together, the greater the risk. I don't think people need to be paranoid about travel or paranoid about shopping. There are always germs out there," Dr. Lucas said.

Instead, keep common sense in mind:

-think about the things that everyone touches.
      -then, wash or sanitize hands.
      -and of course, cover your cough.

Clinics are still being told to give their vaccine, first, to priority groups like children and pregnant women. New shipments are expected for the general public, by mid-December. Until then, doctors say good hygiene keeps your risk of infection, relatively low during this weekend of family reunions.

On a serious note, 30 people in Virginia have now died from the swine flu. The most recent, all had underlying health conditions. That's why clinics are still focusing the vaccine on priority groups. So far, 1.4 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed throughout Virginia. 

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