FARMINGTON — An early flu season and a particularly virulent strain of the virus is putting public health officials across the nation on edge but it has not yet hit San Juan County.

Nonetheless, county officials say they're not letting down their guard.

"We do have the flu in New Mexico, and it started early," said Chris Minnick, a New Mexico Department of Health spokesman.

The department has a monitoring system for reported cases, he said.

San Juan Regional Medical Center's most recent influenza report, from Dec. 11, says that there have been no people admitted with influenza-like symptoms. Infectious disease specialists were unavailable for comment because of the holidays.

Local nursing homes and assisted-living facilities also reported no influenza symptoms among their residents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest survey, New Mexico and Colorado reported minimal cases of influenza-like illnesses. Texas, and other southern states, reported a high number.

During the week of Dec. 15, which represents the report's most recent data, localized influenza outbreaks were reported in New Mexico.

This year's flu strain, however, is more severe than normal. The predominate strain in circulation right now is H3N2, a type of swine flu virus, which last made a major appearance in the 2003-2004 season.

The CDC's region 6, which includes New Mexico, reported an elevated number of patients reporting flu-like symptoms with about 19.


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4 percent testing positive. However, the national average was 28.3 percent.

For more

information on influenza

activity world wide, visit www.google.org/flutrends. Google Flu Trends is a tool that uses aggregated Google search data in a model created in collaboration with the CDC to estimate influenza activity around the globe.

To view the latest CDC flu reports visit www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly.