(By Colin Haffner/Chewelah Independent)
This year’s flu season saw 19 flu cases in Chewelah, while statewide there were 287 reported deaths…
It’s time to finally put those face masks back in the cupboard. Flu season is coming to a close according to the Center for Disease Control, and reported cases are about the same as the 2016-2017 season, according to Jen Gear with the Providence Medical Center in Chewelah.
“[We are] officially out of the flu season according to the CDC,” Gear said.
Gear said this year saw a greater number of cases with the Influenza B strain of the flu as opposed to the Influenza A strain. The B strain tends to spike later in the season according to data from the Washington Department of Health.
The Providence Center in Chewelah treated a total of 19 flu cases this season; six cases of Influenza A, twelve cases of Influenza B, and one with both strains
Statewide, there were 287 reported deaths from the Influenza strains per the DOH’s report for the week of May 6 – 12. This is just slightly higher than the 278 total deaths during the 2016-17 flu season.
Four deaths were reported in Stevens County according to the DOH report.
The elderly continue to be at the greatest risk to the flu, constituting more than 75 percent of the reported deaths across the state in 2017-18 compared to just a single death reported for the ages of 0-24.
While the season may be winding down, data is monitored through July on reported cases as it is still possible to contract one of the strains.
Washing your hands, drinking plenty of water and getting vaccinated are the best ways to steer clear of contracting the flu, Gear said.
Gear noted that a lot of the flu cases they see come from people who do not receive the flu shot, a concoction of serums that are a projection of the influenza strains to hit during the season.
“It’s an educated guess as to what’s gonna hit,” Gear said about the vaccines.
It is still possible to contract the flu even after getting a shot. Gear said they do see some cases of the flu in people who were vaccinated.
So it’s always good to watch for the symptoms: chest congestion, shortness of breath, an extreme cough, a productive cough (coughing something up), fever, headaches and body aches.
According to Gear, Tamiflu works well when combatting against the A strain of the flu, but there is a window for when it will be effective, about 48-72 hours from the first presenting of symptoms.
Unfortunately for those contracting the B strain, there are no medical remedies to help, said Gear. Anyone with that strain must wait for the virus to run its course.