Reports of influenza numbers remain steady in North Dakota.
Usually, the state is at the peak of influenza season this time of year. Instead, H1N1 influenza caused a peak in the fall, with very few confirmed cases of seasonal influenza.
“After the new year, there have been less than 30 new cases,” said Michelle Feist, the influenza surveillance coordinator with the North Dakota Department of Health.
Since the state began collecting data in September, there have been 3,244 confirmed cases of influenza in the state. Four people with underlying medical conditions have died after contracting influenza. Two of the people were confirmed to have H1N1. The other people had positive influenza rapid tests, but no additional samples were available to test for a specific strain, Feist said.
The latest death was reported last week of a woman more than 60 years old from the southwestern part of the state. She contracted H1N1 earlier in the season and had not recovered, Feist said.
This year, people were encouraged to get the seasonal influenza vaccine and the H1N1 vaccine. The health department is doing telephone surveys to gauge how many people in the state were vaccinated. The surveys are ongoing through the end of the influenza season in May.
“Demand did increase, but there was not enough vaccine,” said Molly Sander, immunization program manager with the department of health.
There was a shortage of seasonal vaccine in the fall, but then more became available by the end of 2009. It is too early to know if vaccination rates are higher than last year, she said.
Next year, the H1N1 vaccine will be part of the seasonal influenza vaccine.
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