Flu activity still high across St. Louis, but may have peaked

Eastern Health

The Iowa Department of Public Health said Friday Influenza levels continue to build in Iowa and confirmed an additional eight flu-related deaths.

The number of Californians under 65 who've died of the flu has jumped to 42, compared with nine at the same time previous year, state officials said Friday.

The flu strain now causing the most infections is H3N2, an influenza A virus that has been linked with increased hospitalizations and death, especially in young children and adults over age 65.

Dr. Byers said the flu shot is still the best protection against flu-related complications, and while it may not prevent infection, it can drastically reduce the severity and length of illness and prevent serious complications such as hospitalizations and even death.

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"The H3N2 strain that's circulating is a little bit harder of a virus too, it's robust", said Casie Stoughton, Director of City of Amarillo Public Health. So far this season there have been 20 pediatric deaths, most from influenza A. They typically select three strains of the virus, two A's and a B, but their guesses are never exact, Grayson said. The FluMist nasal vaccine offered in the past has not been very effective against H1N1 strains in recent years, so the CDC says it "should not be used".

Carter said the state first started to see an increase in hospitalization for influenza during the second week of December and the numbers of cases have been going up since then.

Health officials said the A strain is the most prevalent this season. "When H3 [strains] are predominant, we tend to have a worse flu season with more hospitalizations and more deaths".

In light of this, officials urge Minnesotans to get vaccinated as flu season reaches its peak over the next few weeks.

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A sharp rise in cases seen by Global Positioning System in the past week - up 78% on the week before - suggests it could be the worst flu season for seven years.

Symptoms of the flu vary but can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

If you get the flu, stay home and rest so you don't spread it to other people.

People in high-risk groups who show flu symptoms should see a health care provider early in the illness, health officials said.

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