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Health officials warn flu season is intensifying across Utah

By Jed Boal  |  Posted Jan 10th, 2017 @ 9:19pm


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WEST JORDAN — While we haven't reached the peak of the last three years, the number of cases of the flu is rising.

"Compared to last year, we are definitely on an increase," said epidemiologist Ilene Risk of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

The number of influenza cases has risen quickly in the last 10 days in Salt Lake County.

"Last year at this time, we had maybe about 30 to 40 cases reported. We have more than doubled that," Risk said.

Statewide, there has been an increase and an even greater rise in Salt Lake County — four deaths and 300 hospitalizations already this season.

"We really have seen the elevation over the last week," Risk said.

She said Salt Lake County often reports higher activity because it is vigilant about tracking flu cases, and the metro area typically has an elevated level of influenza.

This year, it's Influenza AH3, which especially hits the elderly.

"When we have AH3 years, we tend to see an increase in the number of hospitalizations," Risk said.

She suggests it’s a good year to get a flu vaccine.

"If you get your shot, you will also help protect people around you as well as ensuring that you won't get sick from influenza."

The vaccine covers the AH3 influenza and gives you about 50 percent better protection than if you don't get the shot.

"If you get vaccinated, within a couple of weeks you're going to have really good protection against the strains that are being circulated," Risk said,

She recommends following good hygiene practices: wash your hands frequently; avoid touching your face; if you sneeze or cough, make sure you use a tissue. If you're sick, stay away from others.

The Utah Department of Health also expects to see a rise in its numbers when it releases new data on Wednesday.

Contributing: Xoel Cardenas

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