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“Flu cases up sharply in Matagorda County” by: Mike Reddell

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  There’s a sharp rise in flu cases in Matagorda County this year – and Matagorda Regional Medical Center officials say there are ways to avoid the disease and to lessen its impact if you get it.
   Mike Lee, MRMC Chief nursing officer, and Leslie Vaughn, the hospital’s Infection Prevention Director, discussed the flu situation with the Bay City Sentinel in an interview Tuesday, Jan. 16.
   “This is one of the worst flu seasons I can remember in a number of years,” said Lee.
   From October through Nov. 30, MRMC saw 401 cases of flu-like illness – 84 cases tested positive for Type A flu and one case of Type B in the 61-day stretch.
   In the 44-day period beginning Dec. 1, MRMC has seen 447 flu-like cases, which could be all types of illness, with 154 of those cases testing positive for Type A flu and nine for Type B.
   Type A, H3N2, is the most prevalent strain this season.
   Lee said usually he sees 15-20 positive cases a week during flu season, which roughly runs from October through February.
   “All of a sudden we saw a sharp increase, and in three days seeing more than we usually see in a week.
   “It jumped to 40 a week, more than double,” he said.
   A good example the two health officials noted is an early flu season CDC map showed scattered cases, marked in red, mostly in the south.
   By Jan. 15, the CDC map was filled with red in all parts of the U.S.
   Vaughn explains that each year flu vaccines are formulated in the southern hemisphere for our flu seasons here because “their summers are opposite ours, with the hope that covers our situation here.”
   While flu shots contain four strains, including A and B, “you never know when a strain will mutate or if an unknown strain pops up.

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