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New flu strain in Washington deadly for children: CDC



SEATTLE, WA – The flu season is shrinking, including in Washington, but federal health officials are warning the public about a new flu virus that may be more severe for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in their weekly publication that reports of the H3N2 virus – an influenza A strain that is dominant and more resistant to vaccines this season – have fallen in recent weeks. 19659002] In the week of March 17, the last week data are available, the B strain, which is generally more severe for small children, has been reported in high amounts compared to the A strain.

There were approximately 260 flu-related hospitalizations in Washington for the A-line and 1

20 for the B-line. About 236 people have died of influenza in Washington this season, compared with 278 at the same time last year, according to the Department of Health.

"We know that diseases associated with influenza B can be as severe as diseases associated with influenza A," said Kristen Nordlund to CNN. "We also know that influenza B tends to be more severe for younger children."

In the week of March 17, there were five other influenza-related child deaths across the country, the CDC said with two of them linked to the B strain.

Hospitals are also overcrowded with flu patients. The CDC estimates there was a rate of nearly 94 flu-related hospital stays per 100,000 people.

It is also possible that those who have one tribe can still contract the other later in the season, which typically lasts until March and until the end of May.

The CDC suggests those who have not yet received a flu shot go get one.

"Be vaccinated if you have not," says the agency on its website. "There are still weeks of flu activity to come."

Influenza B viruses usually respond better to vaccines than the A strains. The CDC estimates that this year's flu protection against the B-strain was 42 percent and only 25 percent effective against the A-strain.

Find a flu shot in your area.

Here are some tips to avoid the flu and slow it down, according to the CDC:

  • Stay at home when you're sick. Except for medical treatment, do not go without medication for 24 hours after the onset of the fever.
  • Avoid touching the mouth, nose and eyes.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcoholic hand rub.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated with germs.
  • Avoid others who are ill.
  • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue. Throw away tissue after use.

To treat the flu, use over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or cough syrup to relieve the symptoms. Rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids.

If you contact your doctor within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, you may be able to take an antiviral medication that reduces the severity of the symptoms and the duration of the illness. [19659002]

Patch reporters Dan Hampton and Beth Dalbey have contributed to this report.

Photo via Shutterstock [19659024] Get the Seattle Newsletter

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