Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Flu death toll rises to six as virus 'now circulating more intensely'

Flu death toll rises to six as virus 'now circulating more intensely'

While, as of press time, the health care system had not again restricted children 12 and younger from visiting patients in high-risk units such as pediatric intensive care and hematology/oncology, Lee Health is asking that children not visit hospitalized patients while flu is prevalent, and that anyone with flu symptoms not visit as well. While it's best to get one early in the season, it's never too late - and doing so may protect not only you, but also children, the elderly and other vulnerable populations, experts say.

Common symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, body aches and fatigue.

Cases for the most recent week fell to 357, compared to 396 reported in the previous week.

Last year, the vaccine was about 40 percent effective, the U.S. CDC said, while it was 48 percent effective in 2016-17 and 59 percent effective in 2015-16.

Two additional flu deaths were reported in San Diego County last week, bringing this season's total to 11, but overall flu activity was down from the previous week and past year at this time according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is temporarily banning children under the age of 12 from visiting in order to prevent the further spread of the flu virus.

Hu said the prevalent flu strain this year has been H1N1, which has a higher risk to younger people.

"This season seems to be more burdensome, more severe, affecting more people and causing more hospitalizations than the last H1N1 season", Mema said.

The infection rate among children younger than five is 600 per 100,000 people, with 525 lab-confirmed cases in this age cohort.

Twelve-year-old Quinton Kequahtooway, for example, is very lucky to be alive.

Officials urge residents to get flu shots and stay home if sick.

"Last year it went all the way into spring", said Dr. Vincent Lee with Paragould Family Care. "We can all do our part to keep the flu from spreading". The death toll is lower, too, having reached a total of 91 at this point last season.

As of January 5, 507,028 doses of flu vaccine had been administered by AHS Public Health and pharmacists in Calgary.

"So we would like everybody who's eligible to get the vaccine", said Russell, noting that it takes about two weeks for antibodies induced by the shot to come into full effect.

Individuals concerned about the flu, norovirus, or other illnesses and those experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms should contact University Health Services at 814-863-0774, or their regular health care provider.

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