Washoe County has had three influenza-related deaths this season, all among people younger than 40, and health officials are urging people to get vaccinated.
A total of 96 people locally have been hospitalized due to flu-like symptoms, according to the Washoe County Health District. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu is currently widespread in much of the country, including Nevada and California.
Seasonal influenza in the United States has been elevated for five weeks and continues to increase. CDC estimates at least 2.6 million flu illnesses and 1,300 deaths so far this season.
“We cannot overstate the importance of the flu shot,” Kevin Dick, Washoe County Health District officer, said in a statement. “If you find yourself feeling feverish or experiencing chills, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches or fatigue, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.”
The 2019-2020 flu season has been unique in that there have been higher than usual reports of illness much earlier in the season than the previous four seasons. This season’s predominant strain has been Influenza B/Victoria, unlike most influenza seasons that experience higher activity due to Influenza A, information from the health district states.
While the flu shot cannot be guaranteed to keep one from getting the flu, those who do get vaccinated typically experience less severe symptoms if they get the flu and are more likely to recover faster than if they had not been immunized, according to the health district.
Additionally, antiviral medication may help reduce the severity and the duration of the illness if taken when symptoms appear. People are also advised to stay home from work if sick, cough into their sleeves, and wash their hands with warm water and soap frequently.
Where to get flu vaccines: https://immunizenevada.org/flu/flu-vaccine-locations
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.