Monday, April 2, 2018

Flu season just won't quit: Spokane health officials still urge flu shots as second wave hits

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 4:55 PM

click to enlarge Flu season just won't quit: Spokane health officials still urge flu shots as second wave hits
Stuart Danford photo
Walgreens volunteer Alacia Miller gives 48 year old Michael Bryan a flu shot in August 2017 at Blessings Under the Bridge's annual Luau in Spokane.

Health officials say flu season should basically be over, but this year's virus seems to have other plans.

A second wave of influenza B is apparently hitting, according to the Spokane Regional Health District, which reports that while flu hospitalizations peaked in January per usual then declined in February, they went up again in March.

"There were 63 influenza B hospitalizations in March 2018 compared with six influenza B
hospitalizations in March 2017," the health district reports today. "This is likely unrelated to a typical increase of influenza B in late spring, leading officials to warn that a wave of influenza B could still be forthcoming."

Officials still recommend anyone who hasn't gotten a flu shot get the vaccine. Nearly half of Spokane County's 37 flu deaths this season were due to influenza B, and 67 percent of those who died didn't get the flu shot, according to the health district.

"We know illness associated with influenza B can be just as severe as illness associated with influenza A," says Dr. Bob Lutz, SRHD health officer, in a news release. "We also know influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children."

The flu shot provides high protection from the B-strain of the flu, the health district reports, and it can help keep symptoms mild for those who still get sick.

This season, 571 people have been hospitalized in Spokane County with lab-confirmed flu, compared to 271 during the same timeframe last flu season, the health district says.

More from local health officials:
"In addition to flu vaccination to prevent illness, the health district also recommends frequent hand washing with warm water and soap, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if sick.

People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

Fever or chills
Sore throat
Runny or stuffy nose
Muscle or body aches
Extreme fatigue (very tired)

If a person becomes ill, they should consult with a healthcare provider about diagnosis and possible treatment with antiviral drugs. While most people who become ill with flu can be safely cared for at home, some symptoms, like trouble breathing, should trigger immediate emergency care. Also, if an ill child has a fever for many days, if a fever goes away then comes back, if the child becomes less responsive, or if their lips become dusky, the child requires prompt evaluation. Symptoms could suggest complications, such as pneumonia or other sepsis."

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...