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Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2006

Flu season in full force across state

February 18, 2006

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This year's flu season is reaching its peak in Kansas and has now spread throughout most of the state, health officials said.

The flu is considered to be "widespread" in Kansas; only northwest Kansas has not reported many cases, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

"We've had reports of several cases in schools or a nursing home, but those are not in Douglas County," said Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for KDHE.

The flu is not a disease that health departments require physicians and medical clinics to report. The state does, however, have a few "sentinel sites" that have agreed to report increases in flu activity, Watson said.

In the Lawrence school district, student and staff absences are higher than normal, probably because of flu-type illnesses, but it isn't causing alarm, district spokeswoman Julie Boyle said.

The pharmacy at Walgreen Drug Store, 3421 W. Sixth St., has been busy filling orders and selling flu-related drugs such as Tamiflu.

"We sell Tamiflu every day, but we have seen a gradual increase," pharmacist Stephanie Amann said.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is seeing about the same number of patients with flu symptoms that it was seeing last year at this time, a spokeswoman said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza cases have increased this month primarily in the eastern half of the state. Kansas is one of 13 states with widespread activity along with other Midwestern states such as Texas, Colorado and Wyoming. Neighboring states Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma are having regional flu outbreaks, the CDC reported.

The Douglas County Health Department still has flu vaccines available, spokeswoman Sheryl Tirol-Goodwin said.

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