Concord, NH – The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified the first case of influenza in New Hampshire for the 2008-09 influenza season. The Public Health Laboratories confirmed the case in an adult from Grafton County. The timing of this first case is earlier than last year when the first case was reported December 11.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before the flu arrived here in New Hampshire,” stated DHHS Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas. “Now that we know it’s here, we hope this serves as a reminder to everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones against the flu this winter season.”
To date DHHS’s Immunization Program has distributed 103,640 doses of flu vaccine to medical providers around the State for children 18 and younger as part of the Vaccines for Children Program. People are encouraged to ask their health care provider for the flu vaccine. Influenza is highly contagious. It spreads from person to person through the air by coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by direct contact with an infected person. Flu symptoms usually begin one to four days after being exposed to the virus.
“This is a sign of the season,” said Director of Public Health Dr Jose Montero. “We’d like to encourage residents to take the time now to get vaccinated. Flu activity typically peaks in January so there is still plenty of time to protect yourself and your family, and there is plenty of vaccine available.”
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 help stay healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following groups be immunized each year:
Children aged 6 months up to their 19th birthday
People 50 years of age and older
People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
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 and www.dhhs.nh.gov for regular updates of the latest flu conditions in New Hampshire and nationally.