Flu remains at epidemic proportions in Maine

By Aimee Thibodeau, BDN Staff
Posted Jan. 16, 2013, at 12:42 p.m.

The flu remains at epidemic proportions in Maine, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of the end of the day Tuesday, 90 long-term care facilities and 24 schools were reporting influenza outbreaks, Sheila Pinette, the agency’s director, said. Schools are required to report an outbreak to the CDC when 15 percent of the student body is absent.

The state’s weekly flu report noted that as of Jan. 12, 31 new cases had been reported, bringing the total to 89 for the 2012-13 season. That’s up from 27 new cases in the previous week’s report.

Maine and 46 other states reported widespread flu activity, according to data released late last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which covers the week of Dec. 30 through Jan 5. That’s up from 41 states the prior week. The only states without widespread flu were Mississippi, California and Hawaii.

CDC scientists said a recent study of more than 1,100 people found that this season’s flu vaccine is 62 percent effective. That’s considered “moderate” effectiveness and in line with previous years.

The vaccine is reformulated each year to match emerging strains of the illness. This year’s vaccine offers good protection against all three strains circulating nationally, according to health officials.

The CDC still encourages everyone over 6 months of age to be vaccinated against the flu, including those who were immunized last year. While vaccinated people may still get sick with the flu, most experience shorter and less severe symptoms than those who skipped their annual flu shot.

“We still have plenty of vaccine throughout the state,” Pinette said Wednesday.

For information on where you can get a flu vaccine, call the 211 information line or visit flu.gov and enter your zip code.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/01/16/health/flu-remains-at-epidemic-proportions-in-maine/ printed on November 23, 2014