Influenza cases are increasing

Cases of influenza are growing rapidly across Michigan, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declares a national flu epidemic, with widespread outbreaks in 22 states, so far. The C-D-C reports 15 children have died already this season of complications from the flu, which is peaking much earlier than normal in December instead of February or March. National officials say about 90-percent of flu cases so far this year have been the H-3-N-2 subtype, which does not match the current vaccine. However, Jennifer Smith of the Michigan Department of Community Health says it still makes sense to get a flu shot now, especially if you in a high-risk group…including children and the elderly. Michigan is now reporting “widespread” flu activity, with more than 800 reports of influenza confirmed by the Kent County Health Department. According to local health officials, almost 17-percent of all emergency room visits in the county last week were for people suffering from flu-like symptoms. It’s the highest percentage tracked by the health department in five years. The number of people falling ill has jumped significantly, as there were just 415 cases from September 1 through December 22.  (MRN)

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