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Area may be experiencing different type of flu virus

January 18, 2012

The type of flu the majority of those in northwestern Ohio may be experiencing is not the same as what’s prevalent nationwide.

Auglaize County Nursing Supervisor Cindy Jones said she has no idea why this is the case, but it continues to repeat as each week’s flu numbers are tallied in the region.

Of 13 positive influenza labs in a four-county region, which includes Allen and Auglaize counties, Jones said 10 of them were type B and three were type A.

Nationally, 94 percent of influenza cases are type A, which is included in the annual vaccine, which is formulated using strains expected to be most prominent this season. Only six percent of cases have been type B, which has been more prominent here.

“It’s about all we’re seeing here,” Jones said of cases which seem to be affecting children and adults with underlying health issues, particularly chronic lung disease. “It’s just not what we are seeing anywhere else. Most positive tests nationwide are for type A.”

Of the 15 people hospitalized in the state, 10 are from northwestern Ohio.

“What the CDC is reporting is what they are testing is covered by the vaccine, but I wonder if ours is,” Jones said.

She noted many confirmed influenza tests also are only quick “yes” or “no” types and don’t get more specific as to the type of flu someone has so it’s hard to tell what a specific area may be experiencing, but based on what she has seen, she is unsure if other areas are experiencing the same type of flu to the same magnitude as northwest Ohio.

“I just don’t see other areas experiencing the same type we are seeing here,” Jones said. “I don’t know why our area looks like that.”

Nationwide, influenza activity is increasing, but still remains relatively low. In Ohio, flu activity remains sporadic.

There have been no pediatric deaths nationwide from the influenza and the number of deaths of adults from influenza also has been relatively low this year, according to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Given the spread of a type of influenza, which may or may not be covered by this year’s formulated flu vaccine, Jones advised everyone to stay home if they are sick, wash their hands, cover their mouths, and if one hasn’t received the vaccine yet, there is still plenty available by contacting the Auglaize County Health Department.

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