An abnormal number of cases of influenza are causing health officials to issue warnings about an above-normal flu season.
Washoe County Health District officials announced today that there were more than 1,000 confirmed cases of the flu in the past two weeks. There have also been five flu-related deaths.
“All had at least one high-risk or underlying medical condition,” said the Health District’s Phil Ulibarri. “Four were (65 or older), and one was between 50 and 60 years old. Only two of the five were immunized, which is consistent with Nevada’s low influenza immunization rate of approximately 36 percent — the lowest in the nation.”
Some are complaining about being sick for a week or more and emergency rooms being full. Health officials said that flu vaccinations are the best option for avoiding even more serious illness.
“This is definitely shaping up to be an above-average flu season,” said Dr. George Hess of the Washoe County District Board of Health. “To avoid getting sick, get a flu shot and practice good hygiene. This can keep you and those around you safe and healthy this flu season.”
Vaccines have an effectiveness rate between 19 and 52 percent, according to the CDC.
These data, according to the county, show that flu vaccinations were estimated to have prevented approximately 5.1 million flu illnesses, 2.5 million flu-associated medical visits, and 71,000 flu-associated hospitalizations in 2017. Vaccination can also reduce the severity and duration of the flu.
The district said that the usual flu season peak is still four to six weeks away. Widespread flu activity is showing up around Nevada.
Recommendations from the county:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others and stay home from work, school, and errands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
A list of flu vaccine locations is available at https://influencenevada.org/locations/.