Dallas County reports fourth, fifth flu-related deaths of 2017-18

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"The course of flu is unpredictable in both adults and children and it is hard to identify the stage of transmission with certainty", said Bakht Roshan, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist.

Open visitation will resume as soon as health officials determine the flu threat has abated, the release states.

In light of panic over reports of the vaccine's effectiveness, the CDC reported that it expects the American vaccine to be 32 percent effective against the H3N2 virus, but this week saw the flu become highly active in 21 states.

Until further notice, people suffering from flu-like symptoms, including high fever plus cough and/or sore throat, are asked not to visit patients until they have recovered from their symptoms, states an SSM news release.

REDUCE THE RISK OF SPREAD: In addition to taking the flu vaccine, you can reduce or prevent the flu's spread by staying home when sick, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue/cloth when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

"While flu vaccination is still recommended for people who have not yet gotten vaccinated, antiviral drugs are an important second line of defense that can be used to treat flu illness", the US agency added.

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Over the last week, flu numbers have more than doubled from previous weeks, and the numbers continue to climb, according to Chanda Newsome, infection control and prevention coordinator. Both hospitals advise anyone with flu-like symptoms not to visit hospitals.

In the past, H3N2 flu seasons have been more severe with more hospitalizations and deaths in persons aged 65 years and older and young children. Eleven adults have died in our state.

Along with other surveillance components, influenza-like illness is tracked as part of the CDC's ILINet program with the help of volunteer sentinel providers comprised of private providers, occupational health providers, student health clinics and emergency departments.

"We all know the flu shot is not 100 per cent but it's still the best protection out there that we know of so we still recommend the flu shot".

For the week of December 17-23, 241 people had lab-confirmed flu in Greene County.

Health experts recommend that vulnerable populations especially, including children, pregnant women, older residents and people with medical complications, get vaccinated.