County reports another 20 flu deaths

Lubbock Impact offering free flu shots on Friday

Reports by pediatricians and parents in Illinois, New York and Georgia state that their local pharmacies have been out of the vaccines and liquid Tamiflu for as long as three weeks.

Despite the disappointing success rate of the vaccine, it's still the best defense against the flu, McMahon said. To date, there have been 17 influenza-related deaths reported in Allen County in 2018.

Healthy adults under 65 probably don't need them, however, because they're not at a high risk for pneumococcal disease.

Art Frampton, a virologist at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, says this season's active strains are H1N1, two type B strains, and the one causing most the problems, H3N2. However, the CDC readjusted its numbers down slightly in Friday's report, meaning this season did not quite match the intensity of flu activity seen in October 2009.

Though the northern border near Canada and a little bit along the West Coast show some signs of easing, there are "likely many more weeks to go", CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

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The flu is a contagious respiratory illness, spread by a virus. The deaths were associated with H3N2, H1N1 and influenza B strains - "all of the different types of influenza are causing these deaths", Jernigan noted.

Harris said flu activity this season has dramatically increased. Influenza B is more common in children than in adults. "Hawaii and OR are still the outliers". The CDC says that 7.7 percent of patient visits were related to flu-like illness during the week ending February 3, up from 7.2 percent of visits the previous week. That ties the highest level seen in the US during swine flu in 2009. "But there still is a lot of flu happening out there", said Dr. Daniel Jernigan, the CDC's influenza chief.

So far, there have been more than 8,000 confirmed flu cases in the state this season.

The D.C. area, Northern Virginia included, is now one of the top 10 metropolitan areas in the USA affected by influenza, according to an illness tracker compiled with physician data.

Experts are saying the rate of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths is expected to continue to rise throughout the nation toward the end of the 2017-18 season. If untreated, complications can arise from the flu such as pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, and ear infections. The CDC uses data from the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network - five study sites across the U.S.



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