The CDC estimates that more than 18,000 people nationally were hospitalized due to the flu during week ending December 14. There were 31 fatalities the season before, and 50 flu-related deaths in Pierce County for the 2016-2017 season.
"The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be serious", says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator.
However, the ministry stated then that preliminary investigations of the deaths showed the victims as belonging to one or more "risk groups", that is persons made more vulnerable to the virus as a result of an existing condition. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue.
People who may be sick should visit their doctor within 24 to 48 hours after symptoms appear to find out if it is the flu.
The flu season got off to an early start in the Deep South. The number of suspected influenza cases for the year was at 3,320 and the "confirmed influenza deaths for this flu season - 33". That week, just 11 regions reported high flu activity. Eighty percent of these deaths occurred in unvaccinated children.
"So it is important do do everything you can to ensure you're not passing along the flu virus to them".
Even after being vaccinated, the state Health Department recommends washing hands with soapy water or using alcohol-based hand sanitizers and covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue to help prevent the spread of illness.
The CDC suggests everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, with rare exceptions. The flu circulates all year, and while an uptick in cases has come earlier than usual, this season probably hasn't reached its peak yet, Dunn said. "Vaccination is safe, effective, and widely available at pharmacies, community health clinics, and most healthcare provider offices".