Four children have died of influenza in Utah since October – nearly twice as many children per year as the average number of children's flu per decade doubled, the Department of Health confirmed Wednesday.
And with a new strain of the disease the danger could arise for weeks did not fall.
"We are flooded. … There are flu cases in emergency rooms, many influenza cases in clinics ̵
" Normally we see a second wave in spring – from influenza B. But this year we see a second wave of influenza A H3, .. McCaffrey.
Researchers and pharmaceutical manufacturers are trying to anticipate the flu strains that are likely to occur in a given year and to design the annual vaccines accordingly. Influenza vaccines, which were widely used in the fall, were "good" for the first wave of disease, but less effective for the second, said Jenny Johnson, spokeswoman for the Department of Health of Utah.
Nevertheless, the initial strain Johnson might still be in the community, and the flu symptoms are generally less serious with a shot, even if the vaccine is not very close to the load.
"We would still encourage people to get a flu shot," Johnson said. "We have a few more months in the flu season … and the burden can change again. Even if you have influenza, the chances of getting a serious illness with the flu shot are much lower.
Health officials would not confirm what pressures caused the four pediatric deaths or when and where they occurred. The state does not detect flu epidemics in adults, but it does record hospital admissions and flulike diseases reported by physicians and hospitals. Although hospital stays have declined in recent weeks, northeastern Utah has reported the highest numbers so far. This season, about 50 patients were stationed in Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah counties.
Patients and parents with sick children should be careful, especially if there is evidence of pneumonia, the most common life-threatening complication of the flu, Jones said.
"When people die from the flu, they die – historically and textbook – of pneumonia," Jones said. 19659004] He suggested that people "look for signs that the child is breathing harder, has a cough, and is struggling to breathe."
Less common but serious complications include severe muscle pain, inflammation the patient's brain or heart and ear infections, Jones said. Parents and patients should "play it safe" and call a doctor if they think the flu is behind the symptoms.
"If you're ill, call the doctor because your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications," McCaffrey agreed. "And if you're sick, stay home for at least 24 hours" after the symptoms get better.
The health authorities also advised Utahns to prepare for "increased influenza activity for the coming weeks" by frequently washing their hands, covering coughing and sneezing – and getting another flu shot.
"It's really a community-wide effort: we try to protect each other by getting the flu shot," Jones said. "The flu is an avoidable disease. It is in our power to stop it, but we all have to do it. "