Minnesota flu season in full swing; 1 child death reported

Leslie Hanson
January 13, 2018

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a State Public Health Emergency as flu cases continue to spread, causing school closings and filling some hospitals beyond capacity.

The state has seen over 3,800 flu-associated hospitalizations this season, according to the Associated Press. A little less than half of those - 1,750 - were during the first week of January.

The agency says there have been 54 flu-related deaths, 162 people have been admitted to intensive care units and the number of hospitalizations is "considerably elevated" over the same period in the last two flu seasons.

The health district is holding the two clinics in response to the increased flu activity.

Officials said the current flu vaccine has little effect on the H3N2 strain that leads to particularly severe symptoms.

It's no secret by now that the flu vaccine is not a good match with the H3N2 flu strain that is dominating the season.

"Even if we have hit the top of the curve, it still means there's lots more flu to go", he said in a briefing for reporters Friday.

At UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, the emergency room saw more than 200 patients on at least one day, mostly because of the flu. So there's a chance the season could slow down quickly or end early, making it a more normal flu season. It's still the best protection against H3N2 flu and other flu strains, such as H1N1 and B viruses.

For those who haven't gotten the flu, health officials recommend getting the vaccine, washing their hands often and avoiding close with anyone coughing or sneezing. And Jernigan said he expected this year's vaccine to be about 30 percent effective against H3N2 when all is said and done. That strain tends to make more people sick, and the people who get the flu tend to get sicker. "And sometimes the virus mutates in a way you can't predict", he said. But most people in California and the rest of the country are catching a particularly unsafe strain of influenza that the vaccine typically doesn't work well against.

Kris Ehresmann, the Health Department's director of infectious disease, says Minnesotans should get their flu shot now if they haven't already.

"While our flu vaccine is far from flawless, it is still the best defense we have", Fitzgerald says.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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