Flu season arrives late in Washington, but no peak yet

March 19, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. March 19, 2012

Influenza is on the rise in communities throughout Washington, as the slow-to-arrive affliction starts to increase.

State health officials said predicting the timing and severity of each flu season is complicated. Though the flu most commonly peaks in February, peak flu activity has not yet occurred in Washington. The traditional flu season can last as late as May.

“Flu is a serious disease that puts many people in the hospital and claims a lot of lives each year in our country,” Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “Fortunately, we have a vaccine that offers the best protection against flu. We can all do our part to protect our communities.”

Officials said everyone 6 months and older should receive a flu shot each year. Some children under 9 may need a pair of doses for competition protection.

The flu causes fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches and fatigue.

Officials said healthy habits can limit the spread of contagious illnesses, including the flu. Cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, avoid close contact with ill people, and stay home from work, school and other public settings when ill.

For people suffering from the flu, antiviral medications can lessen symptoms and help prevent serious complications. People at high risk for complications should contact a doctor promptly to see for medication. The high-risk populations include pregnant women, recent mothers, young children, and people 65 years and older.

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