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Flu season returns to High Country, Ashe Schools

Originally published: Nov. 29, 2012
Last modified: Nov. 30, 2012

Jesse Campbell

With flu activity on the rise, and no single segment on the population immune to its effects, state health officials are reminding North Carolinians to use caution and prevention measures to avoid its ill effects. 

Incidents of flu have been reported within the Ashe County School System, although the impact appears minimal so far. 

In an email, Ashe Schools Superintendent Travis Reeves confirmed that “some students have been out due to flu” but overall attendance numbers have been “pretty good.”

While the spread of flu last year was considered mild by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, state lab officials have seen an increase in positive results during the month of November, a press release said.

Gauging the prevalence of flu at the local level is more difficult, the Appalachian District Health Department said.  

“Flu is not always reportable,” said Candy Gambill, Communicable Disease and Preparedness coordinator at the health department. “Doctors' offices are not required to report (flu) to the health department unless they are seeing symptoms that are really out of the norm. The only thing we have to gauge by is surveillance done by the state center and its sentinel sites.”

The DHHS Public Health Division said the best line of prevention against the illness is the flu shot, which is both safe and affordable.

The flu vaccine is available in several forms including the nasal spray for those not pregnant and between the ages of 2 and 49, the regular shot for anyone older than 6 months of age, and an intradermal shot that has a needle 90 percent smaller than the traditional shot.

There is also high-dose version of the vaccine available for the elderly population.

The DHHS said the shot is typically available at many doctors offices, health departments, and pharmacies.

There is no appointment needed to get the flu vaccine at the Ashe Health Department in Jefferson, said Gambill.

The department is open 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. during the week and officials often work through lunch in order to administer shots.

People can also prevent the further spread of the flu by regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze and cough, and staying home if you are sick, said DHHS.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.