Area seeing more H1N1 flu cases

Published 1:00 am Wednesday, August 26, 2009

By By Lydia Grimes
features reporter

The H1N1 flu virus has arrived in Brewton and East Brewton — with mainly school children coming down with the symptoms — but most of the cases are mild, physicians said.
In fact, so many children have had the telltale flu symptoms — high fever, runny nose, and cough — that local doctors ran out of flu tests over the weekend. Brewton Medical Center had more by Monday morning, but the state health department has advised doctors to stop sending positive flu tests to be tested for H1N1.
The H1N1 virus — also known as swine flu — first appeared in the United States last spring.
Lynn Smith, superintendent of Brewton City Schools said the flu has not caused excessive absences yet.
Randall Little, Escambia County Schools assistant superintendent, said the numbers were similar at W.S. Neal High School, W.S. Neal Middle School and W.S. Neal Elementary School.
Regina Watson, who is director of D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital emergency room, said the emergency room had seen a lot of patients over the weekend.
Pediatrician Dr. Marina Thompson said using simple precautions can help stop the spread of the disease.
Ricky Elliott, director of the Escambia County Health Department, said the flu season has begun earlier than normal. H1N1 vaccinations are scheduled to begin in late October or November, with schools serving as mass vaccination centers.
The health department will also have vaccinations for the seasonal flu a little earlier than usual, Elliott said.