HEALTH DEPARTMENT ISOLATES FIRST FLU STRAIN
HEALTH DEPARTMENT ISOLATES FIRST FLU STRAIN HARRISBURG, Pa., Nov. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- State Health Department
officials today announced its first laboratory confirmed case of flu, marking the beginning of the annual wintertime illness characterized by fever, chills, sore throat and muscle aches.
Dr. Bruce Kleger, director of clinical microbiology with the department's Public Health Laboratory, said the lab has confirmed a case of Type A/Beijing flu in North East, Erie County. Kleger said the subject most likely contracted the virus in mid-November. "Identification of Type A/Beijing is important because it is one of three strains for which this year's flu vaccine offers protection," Kleger said. "The vaccine also protects against A/Taiwan and B/Panama." New York and Ohio already have confirmed their first influenza isolates. Confirmation of the first case of flu at this time of year is somewhat unusual, according to the department's chief epidemiologist, Dr. Dale Tavris. "Cases normally begin to appear in December, with the highest incidence usually occurring in January and February," Tavris said. Tavris recommends flu vaccine for high-risk groups such as the elderly, people with heart or lung disease, residents of nursing homes and people who
have extended contact with high-risk groups.
"Ideally, the vaccine should have been given by now, because it takes several weeks for a person to build antibody protection," Tavris said. "If you're in a high-risk group and haven't received the vaccine yet, you should contact your physician." Those infected with type-A flu can be treated with the drug amantidine if it is given within 48 hours of the onset of illness. Symptomatic relief from both type-A and type-B flu strains may be obtained through bed rest, drinking more than the usual amount of water and fruit juice, and taking over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and muscle ache. Tavris cautioned that children should not be given medications containing aspirin. "Giving children aspirin may increase the risk of Reye syndrome, a rare but serious illness associated with flu and other viral diseases, including chickenpox." Although the first isolate now has been confirmed, it is impossible to predict how severe the flu problem will be this season in Pennsylvania, or if other strains of the flu will surface in the coming weeks, Tavris said. /delval/ -0- 11/26/91 /CONTACT: Bob Fisher or Bruce Reimer of the Department of Health, 717-787-1783/ CO: Department of Health ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:
MK -- PH037 -- 7391 11/26/91 14:28 EST
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|Date:||Nov 26, 1991|
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