Flu season has officially begun in N.H. – first case is reported

Monitor Staff
Published: 9/28/2016 6:07:52 PM

The first official case of influenza has been reported in New Hampshire, signaling the start of the annual flu season.

The positive test result came in an adult in Rockingham County, according to a release from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. This is relatively late in the year for the first official case compared to previous years; in recent years the first flu test has been reported in the first or second week of September.

Last flu season in New Hampshire, 19 influenza-related deaths were identified based on review of death certificate records.

“It is difficult to predict how a flu season will progress, but the flu vaccine is safe and offers people the best protection to avoid illness and medical complications of influenza virus infection,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, New Hampshire State Epidemiologist.

DHHS encourages all New Hampshire residents 6 months of age and older to be vaccinated against the flu, especially those who are at increased risk for complications.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 25,000 people in the United States die each year from influenza, and 966,000 medical visits and 67,000 hospitalizations were prevented last year by the vaccine.

One difference this year is that the nasal mist vaccine, as compared to the vaccine given by a shot, will not be available for children after medical authorities determined that it did not provide enough protection against the virus.

Last flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the nasal flu vaccine had no protective benefit for children ages 2 to 17, but children who got a flu shot were 63 percent less likely to catch the disease. The recommendation only applies to the 2016 to 2017 flu season; after that, CDC will review data to see if it will keep or change this recommendation.

The nasal spray uses a live virus that has been weakened; the injected vaccine uses a dead virus.

Vaccines use disease viruses to trigger the body’s immune system, creating antibodies that can react immediately when the actual disease virus arrives.

For more information on influenza and the vaccine, contact the NH Immunization Program at 1-800-852-3345 x 4482 or 271-4482 or the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 1-800-852-3345 x 0279 or 271-0279.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek)

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