Spike In Flu Related Deaths
With more than 150 admissions into UF health and 12 deaths since October in Gainesville-- Health experts say there's a striking increase in the number of younger patients contracting the flu and an increased severity as well.
February is the peak season for the flu here in North Central Florida and now that it's making a comeback, it’s nastier than ever. Dr. Glenn Morris, the Director of the UF Emerging Pathogens Institute said, "Many of these people had underline health conditions but nonetheless flu was clearly an element in the deaths. One of the things that has us somewhat concerned is that of those 12, 5 were younger than the age of 40."
A concern for health officials is the number of younger patients who are susceptible to this strain of the flu, a variant of H1N1, which first surfaced in 2009. According numbers released this afternoon by the Florida department of health, Marion and Putnam county are two of the five counties in Florida with reporting the highest amount of flu cases.
Getting a flu shot does not guarantee you will be flu-free, as the vaccine is not 100 percent effective-- however it is one of the best ways to prevent it. That's the reason I am getting one. The more people that are vaccinated in your community-- reduces the risk of getting the flu.
However if you are already fighting off the virus, "Stay home that way you don't spread the disease to others, out in the community. If you are ill, you should contact your primary care physician because there are anti-virals an individual can take that will lessen the symptoms of the disease," Paul Myers an Administrator at the Alachua County Health Department said. Dr. Morris says one of those anti-virals patients can use is Tamiflu.
"So we know what virus is causing it but we don't know is why this virus seems to be more virulent or more severe, causing more severe infection and illness in patients. So that research is ongoing, not only at the University of Florida but also at the CDC in Atlanta," Myers added.
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