Flu surge continues in Arizona — Health agency

A syringe contains the flu vaccine at Tri City Health Partnership a free health clinic in St. Charles that provides services for those who are uninsured or underinsured

"In more severe seasons, the flu causes approximately 700 deaths and almost 8,000 hospitalizations each year", said Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary, Louisiana Department of Health.

The 2017-18 flu season in OH and nationally is looking similar to what was seen during the 2014-15 flu season which at the time was the most severe flu season in recent years, according to the (CDC).

Louisiana is seeing widespread and early flu activity, and local physicians like Dr. Jeffrey Combetta, medical director at Franklin Medical Center, say their patients are asking what can be done to avoid the illness.

From October 2017 through January 2018, more than 65,000 people were treated for the flu in Tarrant County hospitals and John Peter Smith Health Network Clinics.

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A flu shot is especially crucial for people who may be at higher risk for serious complications. However, the medical community has seen an uptick in positive flu cases in Hays County since past year.

Schneider said the rise in positive flu cases could be attributed to better reporting on the physicians' part. Two strains of the virus are affecting the population - the dominant and more severe influenza A strain (H3N2) which mostly impacts the elderly, and an influenza B/Yamagata strain which affects both adults and children. It's true that the vaccine was only 10 per cent effective in preventing influenza A. Vaccine effectiveness against other circulating flu viruses has been about 60 percent for H1N1 viruses, and around 50 percent for influenza B viruses.

- If you do get the flu, go to the doctor for antiviral treatment to help reduce symptom duration. Children and patients with severe immunosuppression may spread the flu for over a week. Another factor is a fear of getting the flu from the vaccine.

Other effective ways to avoid getting or spreading the flu include: washing hands frequently or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick. "And if they do get sick, try to reach their health district for antiviral medication".

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