LOCAL NEWS

Flu Activity Remains Widespread In Utah; Severe Strain Makes Late-Season Run

Mar 12, 2019, 8:21 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Influenza activity, featuring a stronger strain of the virus, remained widespread in Utah as the flu season entered its tenth week, according to the Utah Department of Health.

The 2018-19 flu seasonal is currently estimated at a high severity level even though the most recent numbers showed a slight decrease in hospitalizations and reported cases of influenza-like illnesses, said the department’s influenza report for the week ending March 2, 2019.

“We’re thinking we peaked, but there’s still influenza floating around out there,” said Rebecca Ward with the Utah Department of Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Utah is one of 32 states experiencing high activity of influenza-like illnesses. Since the flu season started, there have been 1,243 hospitalizations related to the illness in the Beehive State.

Rebecca Ward, Utah Department of Health

Rebecca Ward, Utah Department of Health

In the beginning of the season, H1N1 was the most common strain circulating in Utah, but recently, H3N2 has become the predominant strain.

“It can actually make you much sicker even than the H1N1,” Ward said.

Because the H3N2 strain can cause a more severe illness, Ward said it’s important for Utahns to call their doctor if they are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

“H3N2 can make a person very ill, very sick,” Ward said. “It can be very aggressive and give very serious symptoms.”

Flu season can last into May, Ward said, and the health department is predicting that Utah will likely see elevated flu activity in the weeks ahead. She reminds everyone to get their flu shot.

“There is an H3 strain in the vaccine,” Ward said. “So it’s not too late to get vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated this season, don’t hesitate to do it.”

In addition to encouraging residents to get the flu vaccine, Utah Department of Health also reminds that preventative actions, like washing hands and covering coughs, can stop the spread of germs. Also, the department says to stay home from work or school if you are feeling sick.

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Flu Activity Remains Widespread In Utah; Severe Strain Makes Late-Season Run