H1N1 flu spreads quickly

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More people are getting sick from the 2009 H1N1 virus, also called the swine flu, than earlier this summer.

Virtually all flu cases – more than 99 percent – are a strain of the H1N1 virus.

The frequency of the disease shows a dramatic increase in people with the swine flu, according to state health officials.

The percentage of people who went to doctors’ offices with flu-like symptoms was less than 1 percent on July 25. That number has now risen to almost 8 percent on Aug. 29.

“We are still in the acceleration phase of the H1N1 influenza, and there has been almost logarithmic growth in its incidence,” said Dr. Donald Williamson, health officer.

Williamson held a joint news conference Tuesday with State Superintendent Joe Morton.

Williamson said the state’s health care system seems to be weathering the situation well. When looking at hospitals, 20 percent of emergency room patients have flu-like illnesses, and 5 to 6 percent of hospital admissions are patients with flu-like illness.

Alabama and other southeastern states are seen as harbingers for the rest of the nation for widespread influenza activity.

The state is on track to start receiving H1N1 vaccine in early October and will hold vaccine clinics throughout the state, Williamson said.