May marks the end of flu season and, here in Pennsylvania, this year was a record-breaker.
This was the worst flu season on record for the commonwealth, with a more than 70% increase in deaths this year compared to last. There were 256 deaths this flu season, the highest since records were first kept more than a decade ago.
Dr. Peter Kang, with ‘All Better Care’ Urgent Care in Harrisburg, tells us, “The most common symptoms we see are fever, chills, body aches…” He says he’s seen a lot of flu cases these last few months. “We commonly think of the flu virus as just a virus that you’ll get over. But, believe it or not, the flu virus can be very serious. You can even die from the flu.”
And this year in our state, that was all too common. 121,000 cases of the flu from October to May; 50,000 more than the 2016-2017 flu season and 100 more deaths; 256 total.
Dr. Levine says, “That highlights the importance of our most important prevention effort for getting the flu, and that’s getting a flu shot”.
Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, says most of the flu cases this year were the H3N2 strain.
And, Dr. Levine says, “that tends to lead to a very severe flu year, with lots of significant illnesses.” He says the state has been working to increase reporting of the illness to better track the number of flu cases each year, and the Department of Health is already working to launch an aggressive campaign on the importance of prevention. “We will be ready with our flu campaign in the fall. To highlight the importance of people getting ahead of things, and getting their flu shots in October.”
There were six cases of children dying from the flu this season. In order to prevent another season like this one in the future, it is recommended that kids also get an annual flu shot starting at six months.
–Matt Heckel, JET 24 Action News