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May 29, 2018

Pennsylvania sets record in 2017-2018 for flu deaths

Health News Flu
03302018_flu_vaccination_wiki Airman Joseph R. Schmitt, U.S. Navy/via Wikipedia

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Flu killed a record-setting 256 Pennsylvanians this season, about 100 more than the previous season, state health officials said Tuesday.

Six of those deaths were children.

More than 121,300 cases were reported during the 2017-18 flu season, about 50,000 more than reported in 2016-17, according to the state Department of Health. Most were influenza type A, specifically the H3N2 strain.

The contagious disease was particularly bad in Pennsylvania in January and February, with nearly 15,000 cases reported in one week in February. For five consecutive weeks, the number of reported cases in each week exceeded 10,000, officials said.

“The flu is a disease that can leave people sick for days, but can also be serious, and even deadly for vulnerable Pennsylvanians,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said in a statement. “Getting an annual flu vaccine remains the most effective way to protect your health and the health of those around you. In addition, it is essential to wash your hands frequently and protect yourself and loved ones from the flu.”

Influenza attacks the nose, throat and lungs and may include the following symptoms: fever, headache; tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches.

The state is using the record numbers to remind residents about the importance of taking precautions against the disease.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. Individuals six months of age and older should get the flu vaccine each season, ideally in October before the season begins. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies from the vaccine to develop protection against infection.