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Home / Health / The river has killed 26 people this season in Pa. and it's hitting the Lehigh Valley hard

The river has killed 26 people this season in Pa. and it's hitting the Lehigh Valley hard



River activity is on a slight upward trend across Pennsylvania with confirmed cases of the river in all 67 counties, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's weekly report the case of a fluent state of health – in every county of Pennsylvania for the week ending Jan. 26.

The flu season officially gears up at the start of

The number of confirmed cases has climbed to nearly 20,000 this week as the flu claimed its first pediatric victim in Pennsylvania. Of the 25 adults who have died from flu-related illnesses, the vast majority have been 50 or older.

Pennsylvania's counties, Northampton and Lehigh are among the hardest hit. Doctors report a high percentage of outpatient visits, surpassing the "epidemic threshold for the region," according to the department.

But, nationally, Pennsylvania is faring better than its neighbor to the east New Jersey, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly flow report, which lags a week behind Pa.'S health department reporting.

Right now, New Jersey is among only six other states considered to be at the highest flu activity level. The other states at the high end of the activity level include Alabama, Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Pennsylvania was considered at the low end of moderate as of Jan. 1

9, according to the CDC.

It continues to be widespread in Pennsylvania. The status means there are confirmed outbreaks or increases in confirmed cases of the river at least helped the regions of the state. This is not an indicator of severity.

Mapping the flu

We have reviewed the following sections of Pennsylvania's 67 counties: 19659002] The data covers from the start of the river season in October until Jan. 26.

Click or tap on a county to see the total number of river cases and its flow rate per 100,000 people.

The Department of Health cautions that its official tallies only capture a fraction of the flu cases in the state at any given time.

It is estimated that five to 20 percent of Pennsylvanians, or 600,000 to 2.4 million people, get the river each year and 120 to 2,000 die from flu-related complications.

Here are the 15 hardest hit Pennsylvania counties:

The statewide flu rate was 154 cases per 100,000 people.

  • 15. Wyoming County Flu rate: 281 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 78
  • 14. Elk County Flu rate: 283 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 87
  • 13. Snyder County Flu rate: 296 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 120
  • 12. Greene County Flu rate: 319 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 119
  • 11. Lehigh County Flu rate: 323 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 1.167
  • 10. Lackawanna County Flu rate: 326 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 690
  • 9. Carbon County Flu rate: 334 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 214
  • 8. Northumberland County Flu rate: 343 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 319
  • 7. Lycoming County Flu rate: 387 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 447
  • 6. Columbia County Flu rate: 390 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 260
  • 5. Northampton County Flu rate: 402 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 1,211
  • 4. Clearfield County Flu rate: 422 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 340
  • 3. Alfalfa County Flu rate: 474 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 1,508
  • 2. Wayne County Flu rate: 488 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 252
  • 1. Jefferson County Flu rate: 547 cases per 100,000 people. Total cases: 242

Flow season usually peaks around March, but can sometimes carry into March or later. Last year, the river peaked around mid-February.

You never really know when a river season will bottom out. But, right now, this nasty virus appears to be still strong.

What's the dominant flu strain this season?

Each season there are several strains of the river that float around but one usually dominates during the year. Last year we got one of the nastiest – the H3N2 virus, which can mutate, outsmart vaccines and cause bright symptoms if you catch it.

While there is some H3N2 floating around this season, it appears the dominant strain is the H1N1 virus – more commonly known as "swine flu." But do not be fooled, this flu strain is still plenty dangerous, as seen during the 2009 fluvial season.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

It's never too late to get a flu shot, and if you have not gotten one yet, (again) you definitely should, experts say. It's quick too.

Many think you can get the flu from the vaccine, but the CDC and every expert will tell you this is wrong.

Here are some debunked myths about the river vaccine:

  • Myth: The flu shot can give you the flu. In some rare cases, some people can develop a life-threatening reaction, according to the CDC.)
  • Myth: It's better to get the flu than the flu vaccine. (No. It's definitely not better to get the flow if you can avoid it.)
  • Myth: I do not need a flu shot every year. Spencer Kent contributed to this report

NJ Advance Media reporter Spencer Kent contributed to this report. Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com . Follow us on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook . Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook .


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