RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – While swine flu has been 'off' the radar, doctors continue to treat a steady number of H1-N1 patients. In fact Virginia is seeing an increase in swine flu cases. Dr. Kevin Watterson from HCA's Rockwell Physicians of Salisbury is here to talk about these new cases.
Diane: Our first question, Virginia is seeing an increase in swine flu cases. What's behind this increase given the successful campaigns that we've had to get high risk populations vaccinated?
Dr. Watterson: That's a good question. Always try and predict the nature of when the flu will wax and wane is tough. In terms of vaccinations. Virginia has actually done a very good job relative to the rest of the country, but we still have just a hair over a quarter percent of the population that's received the vaccine. So there are still plenty of folks out there that are susceptible. It's interesting in the spring season that we're actually seeing a slight uptick in the H1-N1 cases. Why that's happening now, I don't know. It seems to be the southeast experiencing most of the uptick with areas going from local upticks to regional upticks, particularly in the more southern states.
Diane: And how real, how imminent is a third wave of swine flu for Virginia? I'm just curious.
Dr. Watterson: We're all curious about that question, and the answer at the end of the day is we don't know. Again, trying to predict what flu does and doesn't do is always a risky business. What we do know is that the H1-N1 virus has not mutated so that the vaccine we have available is still effective and, like I said, there are still plenty of opportunities for people to -- that haven't been vaccinated to get vaccinated.
Diane: And to get vaccinated free of charge, as well. I think it's hard for people to wrap their brains around swine flu and getting vaccinated given the great weather we're having, but that still affects the stockpile of the vaccine that we have. What happens to all of that? Is it just trashed and thrown away or good for another season?
Dr. Watterson: Another good question. The vaccine that we have doesn't expire until April of 2011, at least the vaccine that I have, and I suspect that's true all around. Again, the virus hasn't changed, so the vaccine is still affected.
Diane: So it's still good.
Dr. Watterson: Still good, still works, and still available.
Diane: Excellent. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
See the video at right for the full interview.