Flu cases continue to spike in Washoe County, health dept. says

Eastern Health

Eastern Health

US health officials on Friday said plenty of people are getting sick, and the flu has hit epidemic levels - just as it does most winters.

On Monday January 15, anyone showing flu symptoms, or under the age of 12 years will have visitor limitations at St. Peter's.

Flu is now widespread in every state except Hawaii.

"Nationally, the flu season may be peaking now", said Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC, during the media briefing.

Alabama's governor Kay Ivey declared a state public health emergency yesterday because of rising flu levels in that state.

"It is higher this week than last week, which was higher than the week before, so we haven't seen a peak yet", said Dr. Daniel Shin, an infectious disease physician at the hospital.

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The highest rates of hospitalizations are among those over the age of 65, but hospitalizations for those 50 to 64 is also high and increasing, Jernigan noted. Thus far, this season has had 10,324 lab-confirmed cases, compared to 1,352 last season.

In the last week, doctors have seen an uptick in flu-related doctors visits while the rate of flu hospitalizations almost doubled. And Jernigan said he expected this year's vaccine to be about 30 percent effective against H3N2 when all is said and done. Flu activity is now tracking closely with the 2014-2015 season, which was considered severe and peaked around this time.

"CDC has been in regular contact with influenza antiviral manufacturers regarding supply and other issues", he said.

"People with influenza or other chronic illnesses such as heart disease or asthma means that it can take more time for people to be seen by a doctor". "As you get older, your immune system starts to not function as well, but for people with other underlying conditions, often Influenza can tip the balance". There has been some talk about the vaccine not being that effective this year.

"If someone is vaccinated and they encounter someone with influenza - unless the vaccine that they received isn't a flawless match - they still will have reduced symptoms as well as a potentially shortened course of the illness", Echols said. That's true. But public health experts still say that an imperfect flu shot is better than no flu shot.

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