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Tonya Papanikolas ReportingThe winter months can bring a lot of sickness; it's traditionally the peak time for cold and flu cases. This year, we've seen more of one than the other.
A lot of people are trying to get over colds. The next couple of weeks are usually peak time for the flu. But so far, that sickness has been kind of sporadic in Utah.
Chances are, you probably know someone who's been sick lately.
Dr. Shari Welch, LDS Hospital Emergency Room: “It’s the cold and flu season and it’s definitely the pneumonia season.”
The cold season tends to last until spring and so does the flu. But so far, Utah hasn't seen a severe flu season. We've had 76 documented cases in the state and 56 in Salt Lake County.
Holly Birich, R.N., Salt Lake Valley Health Department: “It's been so far a pretty mild to moderate year."
Dr. Shari Welch: “We've just diagnosed our first few cases here in the LDS ER.”
Holly Birich: “The next few weeks should let us know whether we're going to see more cases or whether it will be evening out."
Flu shots are still available at clinics across the state. Getting one now can still help protect you for the rest of the season.
Holly Birich: “If you still have not received a flu vaccine, please go get one. In fact, all the Salt Lake County health clinics have received another 500 doses."
To ward off a cold, the health department recommends washing your hands frequently for about 20 seconds. But some of these germs are hard to avoid. If you do get a cold, be aware of your symptoms, because if severe and untreated, a cold can sometimes turn into pneumonia.
Dr. Shari Welch: “We're seeing a lot of pneumonia. In fact, I've had two cases this morning here in the ER."
Bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, so catching it early is key.
Dr. Shari Welch: “They will be coughing, and when they're coughing, something comes up, and it will usually have a color to it. They may feel short of breath with it, night sweats, just waking up drenched in sweat is often a sign of pneumonia."
A fever and chills are also symptoms of pneumonia. As for the flu, flu seasons are unpredictable so it could very well pick up now or in a couple months.