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Flu Cases Increase in Salt Lake County

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Influenza Activity Around the US

  The Salt Lake County Health Department says it’s seen a sharp increase in the number of influenza cases over the past two weeks.  And state officials say a flu shot is still the best way to prevent it. 

Doctor DagmarVitekwith the Salt Lake County Health Department says 75 people have been hospitalized with influenza over the past two weeks.  Two people have died.  And she says elderly people and others at high risk need to see a doctor right away if they have symptoms of the flu.

Dr. Vitek tells KUER, “It’s very sudden.  You become very ill with high fever and muscle aches and chills and headache.”

Dr. Vitek says medications such as Tamiflu can help reduce the severity of the illness if they’re taken in the first day or so after someone gets sick.

Becky Ward is a health educator with the Utah Department of Health. She says one of the influenza virus strains circulating this year doesn’t match up exactly with the seasonal vaccine. That may reduce the vaccine’s effectiveness.

“There has been a drift in the H3N2 type," Ward says.  "It is a Type A that are accounting for about half the viruses circulating right now in the U.S.”

Ward says the shot will still provide some immunity against the mutated strain, and it offers good protection against Type B influenza. Other prevention strategies include frequent hand washing and staying home if you’re sick.

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