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H1N1 flu advances in some areas, retreats in others
By telegraph of nashua
Published: Sunday, November 01, 2009
There were mixed signals this week on the growth of H1N1 in the central part of the state: Nashua hospitals saw a slew of flu-like illness in their emergency rooms, but the city’s school system saw flu absences decline back to levels typical for this time of year.
“Overall, the absenteeism numbers seem to be going back to baseline before we started seeing the increase,” said Ashley Conley, epidemiologist with the Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services.
“Part of it is probably because parents were great about keeping their kids out of the schools when they were sick.”
At Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, on the other hand, emergency room visits rose sharply this week, due to what medical officials officially label “influenza-like illness.”
“On an average day we see 110 to 120 patients - now it’s 150 to 160,” said Dr. Joseph Leahy, the hospital’s emergency room director. “That increase has been really a reflection of the flu-like symptoms we’re seeing.”
St. Joseph Hospital has seen a similar increase this week, said Sarah Ward, director of marketing and communications there.
Officials assume that anybody suffering with the flu at the moment has so-called swine flu, since the seasonal flu usually doesn’t arrive until later in the year. The most recent report from the state Department of Health and Human Services says that all of the positive test results it ran on suspected flu last week were due to H1N1.
New Hampshire’s level of H1N1 is at the “widespread” category, the same category in virtually all states. Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control says that H1N1 is continuing to spread, with visits to doctors for flu rising to the point that it is “higher than what is seen during the peak of many regular flu seasons.” Leahy said most patients were coming down with “mild to moderate” flu, requiring relatively few hospitalizations.
As has been the case all along with H1N1, most patients are children or adults.
Hospital officials were happy Friday because they got a relatively large shipment of H1N1 vaccine, which has been slow to arrive because of problems with production.
At Southern New Hampshire, roughly 500 to 600 doses were given to employees to provide protection as they handle an increasing number of people with contagious flu.