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Health officials: Flu cases up this season in NH, Vt.

  • FILE - This Jan. 23, 2020 file photo shows a patient receiving a flu vaccination in Mesquite, Texas. On Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the vaccine has been more than 50% effective in preventing flu illness severe enough to send a child to the doctor's office. Health experts consider that pretty good. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 2/28/2020 10:13:46 PM
Modified: 2/28/2020 10:33:40 PM

LEBANON — Twin State health officials are reporting an uptick in flu cases this season.

At Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the number of cases is “certainly higher than last year, but nothing that is overtaxing our system,” said D-H spokesman Rick Adams in an email on Thursday. Cases include a mix of flu and flu-like illnesses, including influenza A and B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), he said.

Lebanon’s Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital also is seeing somewhat higher flu activity this year, particularly in terms of influenza B compared with influenza A, APD spokeswoman Kelli Pippin said in an email.

Neither state has reported pediatric deaths this season, though more than 100 children have died elsewhere in the U.S. Fourteen adults have died of flu-related causes so far this year in New Hampshire. There were 48 last season. Vermont doesn’t track adult deaths from the flu.

Higher-than-usual numbers of children and young adults have contracted the flu this season, and there have been higher-than-usual incidents of hospitalization and a relatively high number of flu-related pediatric deaths nationally, said Jake Leon, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

Overall, flu activity in Vermont has been greater than last season but is within what officials expect to see at this time of year, Vermont Health Department spokesman Ben Truman said.

Influenza B has been the predominant strain in New Hampshire and across the country this season, which is unusual, Leon said in an email. Typically Influenza A viruses predominate early in the season.

More recently, cases of Influenza A have ticked upward nationally, balancing out the number of cases of both types of viruses, Leon said.

The flu vaccine has helped to limit recorded cases, reducing flu-related doctor’s visits by about half overall nationally, which is consistent with the vaccine’s effectiveness in past seasons, Leon said.

Despite the uptick in flu activity this season, health officials said their recommendations for preventing transmission are unchanged from previous years.

“Our response to the flu remains the same — which is recommending the flu vaccination, encouraging proper hand hygiene, masking patients who present with flu-like symptoms and asking employees with flu symptoms to remain at home,” said Pippin, APD’s spokeswoman.

Health officials all said it’s not too late to get the vaccine.

“It takes about two weeks to develop antibodies after being vaccinated, and we expect to have influenza circulate in the community into May,” Leon said. “Sometimes we even see influenza cases in the summer months.”

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at or 603-727-3213.

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