ROCKINGHAM — Though reports of flu have risen across North Carolina, Health Director Tommy Jarrell says Richmond County has yet to feel its full impact.
“It’s started picking up quite a bit,” Jarrell said this week. But “I wouldn’t say it’s at its peak yet.”
State health reports put the death total for flu at seven as of Dec. 30.
Flu is not a reportable disease, Jarrell said — that is, the state does not compile statistics on flu cases until they cause death. And many suspected flu cases really aren’t, Jarrell said. People assume they have the flu because they feel bad, he said, but unless the illness lasts more than a few days, it isn’t the flu.
In any case, Jarrell recommended getting a flu shot. Even if it doesn’t protect against all strains, a shot can lower one’s chances of catching one strain and lessen the effects of others.
“We certainly still have vaccines here,” he said of the county health department. Local pharmacies also advertise the availability of shots.
“We’re going to see it migrating” from the South, Jarrell said. Much like the snowstorm that socked Richmond County earlier this week, the flu seems concentrated in states south of North Carolina and is moving north.
Neighboring Scotland County has felt the impact of the flu migration more strongly.
Its Scotland Health Care System has prohibited visits by children younger than 12 until the spread of flu tapers off. The ban was announced Wednesday.
Those with flu symptoms also have been asked to refrain from hospital visits until two days after symptoms have disappeared. And anyone with an appointment at a physician’s practice or clinic, the Emergency Center or other outpatient location will be asked whether he is experiencing flu-like symptoms. Those answering “yes” will be asked to wear surgical masks.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.