WRHA warns of early start to flu season, 5 deaths so far

WRHA warns of early start to flu season, 5 deaths so far

Predominant strains could change throughout a flu season, and the duration and severity of each season can vary dramatically from year to year, Baumbach said.

"As of this time this year, the reported cases of influenza are slightly higher than the same time last year", she said.

A total of 5,715 flu cases for the season have been reported, up from 3,558 the previous week and up from 886 at this time past year.

Montana's flu season lasts from October through May and typically peaks in January.

As of December 16, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services had received 4,363 reports of influenza A statewide, and 1,300 reports of influenza B, with 52 unknown or untyped cases, for a total of 5,715.

He said it is not too late for people to get a flu shot.

"Only about 30% of the Flu that's going around in Louisiana is the A strain and they've done some more tests in the United States which suggest that the vaccine against that particular strain isn't great but, it's about 30% effective", said Welch.

Unfortunately the H3N2 component of the flu shot is an under-performer, often offering protection that is in the 30 percent range.

"What we're seeing are the types of influenza - influenza A and B - that are covered in the vaccine", Landers said.

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The viruses causing most of the illness right now are from an influenza A family called H3N2. Twenty-three states reported widespread flu activity last week. That's compared to just 347 at this time past year.

"We're seeing increases in influenza activity", said Dr. Karen Landers, a district medical officer whose area includes Lawrence, Limestone, Morgan and nine other north Alabama counties. Patients who have other health conditions that predispose them to getting very sick when they contract influenza should be prescribed anti-viral drugs, he said.

The holiday season brings people together.

Doctors are urging those who have not gotten a flu vaccine to get one.

The best way to protect against the flu, nearly every health care provider will tell patients, is through the flu vaccine.

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in up to 710,000 hospitalizations and 56,000 deaths every year since 2010.

Flu-like symptoms include cough, fever, body aches, headache, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, chills and fatigue.

Meanwhile, public health officials are encouraging people to get the flu shot, wash their hands frequently and stay home if they are sick.

Vaccinations are especially recommended for anyone who is elderly, pregnant, or has a weakened immune system.

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