Florida Weekly Flu Report: Flu activity increases sharply, deaths expected to rise

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - JANUARY 06: Gautam Gupta receives an influenza shot from Nurse Practitioner Ray Grigorio in the MinuteClinic at the CVS/pharmacy on January 6, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – Flu activity in Florida was at higher levels than the highest points in previous flu seasons, according to this week’s flu report from the Florida Department of Health.

The report says flu activity is high and increased sharply for the third week in a row from Jan. 21 to 27, 2018.

The flu is blamed for the deaths of two children from Jan. 21 to 27, raising the total number of pediatric deaths to five this flu season.

The report said 317 pneumonia and influenza-related deaths were reported from Jan. 14 to 20, 2018. The number of deaths for the week of Jan. 21 to 28 were not included in the report.

The state health department said deaths due to pneumonia and influenza were higher than expected and are expected to increase over the coming weeks. Most deaths occurred in people aged 65 years and older. The majority of deaths in people aged 64 years and younger occurred in people with underlying health conditions (74%).

People at high risk for complications from influenza infection, such as adults ages 65 years and older and pregnant women continue to be impacted.

The most impacted areas are jails, schools and nursing homes. 44 schools and 38 day cares are dealing with the virus and 144 assisted living facilities/nursing homes around Florida have reported outbreaks.

“A lot of people are congregated in that particular space, for a certain numbers of hours,” said Maggie Hall of the Pinellas County Department of Health.

Florida state health officials tell us there’s no way to avoid it and identifying where each outbreak occurs does not help.

“The fact we don’t identify where these outbreaks are is just for the expressed purpose of telling you it’s everywhere—exercise caution,” Hall said.

At least 66 people have fallen ill after an unidentified school in Hillsborough County was hit by the illness.  A district representative said it’s not a public school.

Dr. Richard Kay of Florida Hospital Physician Group explains people visiting places where there are lots of people should heed warnings.

“The answer is: wash your hands.  Wash your hands.  Wash your hands.  Wash your hands,” Kay exclaimed.

County-by-County Data

The Florida Department of Health data shows that the flu is on the rise in most Florida counties, including all counties in the Tampa Bay area.

Here is the flu activity level for Jan. 21 to 27 in individual Tampa Bay area counties as reported by the Florida Department of Health:

  • Citrus County: Mild activity
  • Hernando County: Mild activity
  • Pasco County: Moderate activity
  • Pinellas County: Moderate activity
  • Hillsborough County: Moderate activity
  • Manatee County: Moderate activity
  • Sarasota County: Moderate activity
  • DeSoto County: Mild activity
  • Polk County: Moderate activity
  • Highlands County: Mild acitivity

See the entire flu Florida Department of Health Jan. 21 to 27 flu report here

Preventing the Flu

The Florida Department of Health recommends that sick people stay home until they are fever free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and that all people use good hand washing practices.

Those who have not been vaccinated should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Here’s how to get a flu shot near you. 

Treatment

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of antiviral treatment as soon as possible for all hospitalized, severely ill, and people who are at higher risk for complications which includes children under 2 years of age, adults over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with underlying medical conditions.

CDC Nationwide Weekly Flu Report 

The government’s latest report out Friday shows the flu season continued to intensify last week.

One of every 14 visits to doctors and clinics were for symptoms of the flu. That’s the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

Last week, 42 states reported high patient traffic for the flu, up from 39. Hospital stays because of the flu were also up.

Experts had thought this season might be bad, but its intensity has surprised most everyone. The flu usually peaks in February.

Friday’s report is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. See the entire report here. 

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