A deadly flu season has Lexington hospitals being cautious with visitors, patients

A deadly flu season has Lexington hospitals being cautious with visitors, patients

A deadly flu season has Lexington hospitals being cautious with visitors, patients

Flu-related deaths are well above normal for this time of year. "I couldn't get out of bed". The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only reports pediatric deaths from the flu.

Nationally, as of mid-December, at least 106 people had died from the infectious disease, according to the CDC.

The bug is especially bad in California, where 27 deaths have been linked to the flu. And states across the country are reporting higher-than-average flu-related hospitalizations and emergency room visits. About 13 percent were an H1N1 strain, and about 28 percent were a B strain, with both of those normally less lethal than H3N2. IL is experiencing a 6.4 percent increase in influenza positive tests from a year ago. Health experts aren't sure why this season is different. "Certainly we're seeing that in the hospital", he said. Randy Bergen, a pediatrician who is leading Kaiser Permanente-Northern California's anti-flu effort. "But we don't know what's going to happen".

Although flu-related deaths spiked, the number of lab-confirmed flu cases dropped last week, according to a county health report.

To add to the expected severity of this year's flu season, data shows the second strain of influenza B is circulating much earlier than usual.

Flu season in the USA typically starts in October and ends in May, peaking from December to February. In past years, the effectiveness of flu vaccines in general has been lower against H3N2 viruses than against other influenza A- or B-strain flu viruses. Young children are considered among the most vulnerable to complications from the disease, and a shot can significantly reduce a child's chances of dying.

County health officials reminded the public that it's not too late to get a flu shot.

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The CDC has recommended three main antivirals: oseltamivir (sold under the brand name Tamiflu, ) zanamivir (Relenza), and peramivir, all of which the CDC says contain a strain of H3N2 which should be effective against this year's version.

Shots may still be available from your doctor or local health clinic, as well as at some chain drugstores.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth after touching something contaminated with germs.

That is why washing your hands constantly throughout the day, having good cough etiquette, and staying home if you are sick along with getting vaccinated is still what experts are recommending to do. Remaining hydrated, eating nutritious foods and exercising can also help strengthen your immune system. "However, it is not unusual for spot shortages to occur when flu activity is high", CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund wrote in an email.

"What's important about influenza B is actually its impact on kids", Tam said.

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