Flu factors into three Island County deaths in early 2018

All suffered underlying medical conditions

Three Island County have residents died from influenza this year, adding to the state’s growing tally of flu fatalities and outbreaks.

The three deaths are among 132 laboratory-confirmed flu fatalities reported by the Washington State Department of Health.

One person was in their late 50s, the second in their late 60s, said Dr. Brad Thomas, Island County Health Officer. Both were sent off the island for hospitalization.

One patient was already critically ill with multiple organ system failure and “died with the flu and not because of it,” Thomas said.

A patient in their 90s with an underlying lung condition was confirmed as Island County’s third flu fatality this week.

WhidbeyHealth Medical Center is seeing more positive test results for influenza, Thomas said, “but testing alone may not reflect community illness levels.”

Unlike other counties, such as Snohomish and Pierce, Island County isn’t experiencing clinics packed with sneezing and sniffling people.

No local nursing homes or long term care facilities have reported flu outbreaks, Thomas said. Statewide, 113 influenza-like illness outbreaks have been reported in long-term care facilities.

Three deaths from the flu were reported in Island County for the 2016-2017 season, which ended Oct. 1.

Health officials point out it’s not easy to gauge the prevalence of flu, since only deaths are reported, not cases of possible flu.

They advise the usual precautionary measures: Get a flu shot, wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home from school or work if you experience flu’s major symptoms of fever, chills, body aches, chest discomfort and a cough.

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