Flu-related deaths across state almost double since past year

The women were in a high risk group because of pre-existing medical conditions and/or age, said Dr. Amy Person, health officer of the Benton-Franklin Health District.

"Flu vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older, and is especially important for young children, pregnant women, seniors 65 years and older, and people with high-risk conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart and lung disease, or a compromised immune system", said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park.

The rise in temperatures this week does not appear to be doing any favors to the ongoing flu season, which is already taking a heavy toll on hospitals across the state.

While flu is unpredictable, the peak season typically lasts about a month, she said. It's too soon to jump to conclusions, but "we are obviously concerned that this may be a more severe flu season", she said.

Flu shots are offered at pharmacies, health care providers and the Health District.

A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that, nationally, less than 40 percent of people had received the flu vaccine by early November.

CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping (劉定萍) said 101,364 people sought treatment for flu-like illnesses in the week ending January 6, which was a 4 percent increase from the previous week.

Dr. Neelakanta said the best line of defense, is still the flu vaccine. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. You should also be sure to wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, cover your cough and stay home when you're sick.

The Department of Public Health confirms that the trend is nationwide.

For most people, it's unpleasant but not life-threatening.


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