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      Swine flu is back and doctors say everyone is at risk

      It's flu season again but this year doctors across the country say they're seeing one strain a lot more than others, and that it is making a strong appearance in Northern Michigan.

      The strain, H1N1, also known as swine flu, has returned. Medical professionals say they were expecting it, but that the group of people who are getting sick, is what concerns them.

      "Most years it's the very young or the very old people or those who have other significant illnesses who are the only ones who get seriously ill," said Michael Collins, Medical Director for the Grand Traverse County Health Department and Leelanau and Benzie County health departments. "But with this H1N1 strain of this year it seems to be capable of making adolescents or young adults who are perfectly healthy become very very sick."

      Munson Medical Center has seen almost 80 patients with influenza in the last two weeks alone.

      Since late November, 21 people have been admitted to the hospital and of those, all but one tested positive for H1N1.

      "We're seeing cough, fever, aches, headache, sometimes diarrhea, vomiting," said Munson RN, Janet Swift-Godzisz.

      Officials say we still haven't hit the peak flu season yet, so doctors are still pushing for everyone to get the flu vaccine and to practice good habits to help prevent it from spreading.

      "It's a matter of good hand washing, staying away from people who look like they may be ill, staying home from school or work if you're ill," said Collins. "And if you are ill or coughing or sneezing do it into your arm or shoulder rather than out into the room."

      Collins says it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to set in and anyone above the age of six months can get it. This year's influenza vaccine does contain protection against H1N1.

      Grand Traverse County Health Department has already issued 16-hundred vaccines this flu season.

      Standard influenza signs include cough, fever, aches and pains, and fatigue. Influenza becomes serious when symptoms like pneumonia, high fever, and shortness of breath set in. It can also cause infections to the heart, nervous system, and kidneys.