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Flu cases top 11,000 in W.Va.

Jan. 02, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

CHARLESTON -- More than 11,000 flu cases have been confirmed in West Virginia as of mid-December, the highest total for the month in at least five years, state figures show.

West Virginia is among 31 states reporting widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control said. As of Dec. 31, there were more than 11,500 confirmed cases, according to Department of Health and Human Resources data.

In all of December, there were 6,658 cases in 2011, 6,245 cases in 2010, 8,961 in 2009, 6.271 in 2008 and 7,217 in 2007.

"Every week there's been significant jumps in the number of confirmed positives. We've seen steady increases in confirmed cases from across the county and across the state for five consecutive weeks," Brandon Merritt, regional epidemiologist, with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, told the Charleston Daily Mail.

Locally, 170 flu cases were confirmed in Cabell County in December, and Mason County has had the most confirmed flu cases throughout the flu season in the Tri-State. In December alone, 583 flu cases were confirmed in that county.

Flu cases steadily have increased at a steady rate each month in Mason County, with 222 cases reported in September. That increased to 324 cases in October and 410 cases in November.

Wayne County reported the least amount of flu cases in the Tri-State for the month with just 20 confirmed reports. That county had no confirmed flu cases in September, and the flu, so far, peaked in that county in November, when 27 cases were confirmed.

Flu cases in Cabell County, to date, peaked early in the flu season in September, when 266 cases were confirmed, that number dropped to 113 cases in October and to 89 in November.

Flu seasons usually peak at the end of January or in early February, but this year's season might peak early, Merritt said.

"It's hard to say, we're still trending upwards. It's hard to say when we're going to trend back down," he said.

Most of West Virginia's cases are influenza AH3, which this year's flu vaccine is designed to combat, Merritt said.

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