There has recently been an increase in flu activity in Campbell County, which is in line with what’s happening across the state and the country.
Reginald McClinton, a surveillance epidemiologist for the Wyoming Department of Health, said there is an increase in activity in the influenza B virus, which is one of two flu viruses that cause the most human illnesses.
Kip Farnum, director of student support services in the school district, agrees with that assessment.
“It’s picking up,” he said of Campbell County’s public schools. “Last week we had 27 confirmed cases of flu. The week before that, it was 20.”
Normally. schools see about three to five cases per week, Farnum said. The level the district is seeing now “we usually see in mid-January to mid-February,” he said. “The last few weeks, it’s picked up considerably.”
This season’s flu vaccine had strains of both influenza A and B, said Jane Glaser, executive director of Campbell County Public Health.
The cases are being diagnosed frequently enough that it’s considered “more than sporadic,” Glaser said.
While both viruses have similar symptoms, the symptoms for the B virus are usually milder, McClinton said, although there have been severe cases associated with the B virus.
McClinton said it’s too early to tell how this flu season compares to the last flu season, but noted that this is a bit odd.
“It’s not unusual to have (influenza) B as a major virus throughout the flu season,” he said. “It is somewhat unusual to see the shift (from A to B) this early in the season.”
That shift more commonly happens in January or February, McClinton said.
There are about 200 doses of flu vaccine left at Campbell County Public Health, which has given out more than 5,000 flu shots this season, Glaser said. With the VIP Project, which goes out to the local schools to give flu vaccines and is a partnership of the schools, hospital, public health and the healthcare foundation, 2,656 students were vaccinated this fall, an increase of 15.4% compared to last year.
This is the fifth year of the program in Campbell County. “We get more people each year,” Farnum said, adding that those who work on the project feel it’s making a difference in the community, but that’s also something difficult to measure.
In addition, 2,550 people have received flu shots at Public Health, for a total of 5,176 vaccinations given.