This flu season resulting in more deaths than past years

Three Island County residents have died from influenza during a particularly severe flu season across Washington state.

“They were all elderly people with underlying health conditions,” said county health officer Dr. Brad Thomas. “The strain this year seems to be affecting elderly people particularly hard.”

As of Feb. 11, 209 people statewide have died from the flu, nearly 88 percent of them age 65 or over, according to the Washington Department of Health Influenza Update. The 2016-2017 influenza season is on its way to being a record season, and it still has more than 20 weeks to go.

Flu “season” runs from July to July for reporting purposes.

Last year, 68 people died from the flu; in 2014-2015, 157 deaths were reported. Far more people with flu-like symptoms sought emergency room care and were hospitalized for the flu than in previous years, according to state records.

While many people flooded WhidbeyHealth Medical Center seeking relief from flus and colds during the holidays, “the hospital load has dropped precipitously,” Thomas said. “Compared to the rate of the rest of the state, our flu rate is low, low and waning.”

As for mumps, which has spread across the state, Island County has no reported cases, Thomas said. Of the 469 cases of mumps in Washington, the majority have been reported in King, Spokane and Pierce counties.

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