NH DHHS Confirms First Influenza Case of 2007-08 Flu Season

Concord, NH: It is a sign of the season. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified the first confirmed case of influenza in New Hampshire for the 2007-08 influenza season. The Public Health Laboratories confirmed the case in an adult from the Seacoast area.

“The flu season typically begins in the State in late November or early December, so this is when we expect to start seeing influenza activity”, said Acting DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “However, we want this to serve as a reminder to everyone that the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against influenza this holiday season and throughout the winter months is to get vaccinated. For those who haven’t already done so, it’s not too late.”

DHHS has distributed more than 100,000 doses of the vaccine to medical providers around the State recommended for children under 5 years of age. Demand for the vaccine has been good, and there should still be plenty of flu vaccines available. People are encouraged to ask their health care provider for the flu vaccine.

“We’d also like to remind the public, the vaccine doesn’t solely come in the form of a shot,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jose Montero, “you can also get protection through a nasal spray presentation.” “Practicing good hygiene is also a critical step in guarding against influenza and other illnesses this winter. Washing your hands often, getting plenty of rest, coughing into your sleeve, and staying home when you are sick are all simple common sense steps to staying healthy.”

Influenza is an acute viral disease of the respiratory tract. The virus spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle aches. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the following groups be immunized: health care workers, children aged 6 months through 5 years, anyone 50 years of age or older, anyone with a compromised immune system, anyone with a chronic illness, pregnant women, and residents of assisted living facilities.

For more information about the flu or flu vaccine, contact the NH Immunization Program at 271-4482 or the Communicable Disease Surveillance Section at 271-0279. You can also visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/flu. There is more information on the DHHS website (www.dhhs.nh.gov), including regular updates of the latest flu conditions both in New Hampshire and nationally.