Flu season unpredictable after early start; patients seeing long waits at hospitals

Influenza Season Survival Tips

2017-18 flu season is a rough one, but not something we haven't see before

Previous year for the entire season, which runs October through May, Summit County totaled 10 deaths.

Health officials say all those indicators point to a potentially severe flu season, and Minnesota may not have seen the peak of the season yet.

"However, the difference isn't too great between them and those older and up to age 49", said Michael Hokanson, Public Information Officer for the GDPH North Central Health District. Jennifer Burrough and her family didn't get flu shots this year after hearing reports that suggested it might not work very well this season.

The DPH said patients should be treated by Tamiflu if they become ill.

"We are seeing small percentages of them now but the prominent b strain usually is a later appearing strain in the flu season so there is still time to protect that", explained Levine.

The strain of influenza A responsible for most of the illness seen so far is called H3N2-which experts say is associated with higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths than other strains.

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald said the flu is severe and widespread, starting in early October and making its way across the continental United States.

"Our surveillance team has been doing this for 13 years and this is the first time the continental United States has been the same color in the graph", said Jernigan. The elderly, children, pregnant women and people with chronic medical conditions are at high risk for flu complications. It's especially unsafe for children and the elderly.

The elevated flu season has forced Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance to clamp down harder on visitor polices at hospitals in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee. The influenza vaccine is typically more effective against influenza B, which reiterates how important it is for New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

Since 2010, the CDC estimates there have been between 9.2 and 60.8 million flu cases each year. While it is possible that flu season peaked around the holidays and illnesses will gradually decline, it is also possible that the flu season could get even worse in 2018 before it gets better. Through small droplets from people who are talking, coughing or sneezing.

Aaron Lemma, right, receives a flu shot by Dr. Sassan Naderi at a walk-in clinic on January 10, 2013, in New York City.

Practicing good health habits, such as washing hands frequently and getting plenty of sleep, can help all ages stay strong and healthy throughout the season, said Vega. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

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