Influenza 2016 is still on the rise in Maine, but cases have been winding down in San Diego. It may be hard to grasp that influenza is still striking in April, but with the slow start to the flu season we have yet to hit the peak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting that only now we are reaching the peak of influenza season and in Maine cases are on the rise. Physician’s assistant Matthew DeRosby said, “Well, we have seen over the past few weeks a sudden spike in influenza activity throughout the state of Maine. Lots of patients actually testing positive for influenza.”
Until now, 36 individuals have been hospitalized for influenza, and four new outbreaks have occurred in the month of March alone. “We see spikes at different times this season of influenza, and it does seem a little bit later than we would typically see, but not unusual to see a couple of spikes each flu season, so this one just happens to be a little later than usual. People [are] ready for spring and they’re not thinking about influenza right now,” added DeRosby.
A Glenburg-based nurse Lorrie Springer reported that they have been dealing with more cases of strep throat and stomach bugs, as she feels they have been taking the proper precautions to prevent the flu. “We had the public health nurses come out and give out shots to students and staff, anyone in the community. We had over 70 flu shots given,” Springer said.
DeRosby continued, “Even though we’re seeing the flowers come up in our yards, it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine and we still have that available and so right in the middle of a spike of influenza, if you didn’t get the vaccine early in the season, it’s not too late come on in and get vaccinated. Really good measure is to make sure that we’re all washing our hands very well and if we do have like, symptoms, that type of thing, really work to stay home until you’re feeling better.”
It’s still not too late to receive the flu shot if you haven’t yet, as the flu season is still in full force and the chances of catching the flu is still quite high.
Although Maine is seeing a spike in influenza, San Diego is finally seeing its flu cases dwindle. San Diego flu season saw 60 deaths attributed to the influenza. One hundred fifty five cases were reported, compared to 260 from weeks prior.
Public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said, “Flu activity is winding down in the region, but flu deaths are still being reported. People should get vaccinated and take other precautions to avoid getting sick.”
Last year, 93 deaths were caused by the flu, and this year’s deaths ranged from children to seniors all without underlying health conditions.
In 2015, influenza cases reached 6,672, but this year’s virus only affected 5,761, which is a drop from the year prior seen across the country.
Influenza vaccination is still important for anyone over the age of six months, especially if they have weakened immune systems. This year in particular, the CDC noted that the flu shot was the best match, which could further contribute to the lower number of cases.
Other important tips to prevent the flu aside from becoming vaccinated is utilizing proper hand washing techniques, using hand sanitizers, avoiding those who are sick, and not touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after touching other people or surfaces.
The flu season is overstaying its welcome in 2016, compared to years prior, as many states have yet to hit their flu season peak. Warm weather and more effective vaccinations are to be attributed to the lower flu rates. But even though these two factors have played a role in the smaller number of flu cases, it should be noted that not everyone who gets the flu sees a doctor, so numbers may not be completely accurate. And yet, there are enough confirmed cases to suggest that overall the 2016 flu season has been quite mild.
With the flu season being still in full swing, experts are advising that individuals get vaccinated to protect themselves and still take part in prevention methods to lower their risk.
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