Monday, 05 February 2018 09:05

Local and state officials hold conference with update on flu activitiy for Maine Featured

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BANGOR - Close to 30 people have died from the flu this season and hundreds have fallen ill, a situation that has health officials and others very concerned.


Friday, many local and state officials met to help inform the public about the flu activity nationwide and locally. They're unsure if the season has peaked in Maine and say it's not too late to get a flu shot.

According to the Federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 children have died nationwide and 48 states are reporting widespread flu activity.


"Approximately 6.6 percent of people that are seeking care with their healthcare provider are because of influenza like-illness that rate is the highest since 2009," said Dr. Siiri Bennett, the states epidemiologist with the CDC.


In a weekly influenza report prepared by the influenza division of the Federal CDC the level of widespread activity is much higher and more widespread compared to activity taken at the same time last year. It's unclear if Maine has peaked.


"Maine has been one of the last states to this widespread status," said Dr. Bennett.


More hospitalizations are being reported with Maine seeing a staggering total of 527 from 2017 through the end of January 20-18. Symptoms are also more severe than previous years, officials say the reason if from a particular strain of the flu called H3N2.


"Our bodies don't have the same immunity that we do to other circulating strains it's one of the reason why the vaccines is so important this year,' said Dr. Felicity Homstead, Chief Pharmacy Officer with Penobscot Community Health Center.


Doctors are more concerned with this strain because it's not a common strain during the flu season but say even though it's not a 100 precent match to the flu vaccine, doctors still urge for people to get the flu shot.


"it actually boosts your immune system, so that means it helps you be better able to fight the flu when you do come in contact with it," said Dr. Homstead.


Schools in the area are also taking extra precautions


"We ask all our custodial staff to spend extra time with high point areas where children mingle and gather," said Nurse Mary Right, with the Bangor School Department.


With school vacation just a few weeks away, people will be heading to basketball tournaments and other public places increasing their chances of getting exposed.


"The efficacy of this vaccine is about 2 weeks from time of receiving it. If your child hasn't received that we have about 2 weeks before we change or m-o for that couple of weeks," said Right.


Doctors say to prevent getting sick wipe down work stations, keyboards and cell phones with antibacterial wipes. To wash hands frequently and keep hand sanitizer handy. if you are feeling ill, stay home so you don't spread germs.

Gina Marini

Morning Anchor/Reporter
[email protected]

Gina Marini, a graduate of Curry College, joined WVII ABC7 and WFVX Fox 22 after spending a little more 2 years with NH1 News in New Hampshire. During her time there, she spent time traveling the state bringin...