The Orion

Flu season hits Butte County

Enrique Raymundo

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Mark Lundberg

The H1N1 influenza virus, or swine flu, is either the same or genetically not far off from the 2009 flu virus pandemic which killed about 18,500 people worldwide, according to a 2010 report by the World Health Organization.

The swine flu was dangerous in particular to younger, healthier patients, and continues to be this flu season.

Dr. Mark Lundberg is a Butte County Health Officer, and has taken part in a number of clinics to distribute the flu vaccine. There are a number of theories as to why it is so deadly to younger people, he said.

“A lot of that has to do with how the virus interacts with a healthier immune system,” Lundberg said. “Even though the body is healthier, it puts up a stronger immune response and it produces this more severe reaction because it’s trying to fight the infection.”

There have not been any confirmed deaths in Butte County from this flu season yet, though there are some deaths where tests are still pending. Enloe Medical Center has seen signs of people sick with the flu.

“In the past two weeks, we have seen an increase of people coming to us with flu-like symptoms,” said Christina Chavira, spokeswoman for Enloe Medical Center.

According to Lundberg, there was one case of the flu in the past few weeks where a young patient in Butte County had to be transferred because there is no pediatric intensive care unit in the county’s hospitals.

Fortunately, the flu vaccine for this season does have the H1N1 vaccine in it, which means that anyone who takes it will be immune to this wave of illness. Anyone who caught the swine flu in 2009 should get vaccinated again, as they will no longer be immune because it has been five years since the last outbreak, Lundberg said.

Physicians, pharmacies, hospitals and clinics are all giving out the vaccine and there are a number of ways to prevent spreading the flu.

“Always wash your hands with soap and water, and cover when you cough,” Chavira said.

“Stay home if you’re sick, and avoid people who are sick with the flu. Avoid touching your eyes and nose, and keep active and manage your stress since that keeps your immune system strong.”

It is important to do everything one can to avoid getting the flu, Lundberg said.

“A flu shot is a great insurance,” he said. “If they have class they want to go to, they have vacations they have planned, they have outings they have planned, and the flu will mess up those plans.”

Enrique Raymundo can be reached at

[email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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Flu season hits Butte County