Dallas County reports five more flu-related deaths, total now 23

Eastern Health

In a telebriefing this morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said flu activity is at its peak, with all parts of the continental United States reporting widespread levels of the virus.

The shots will be distributed on a first-come basis, while supplies last, at its community clinics, officials said.

H3N2 is one of the strains contained in this year's flu vaccine along with two or three others, depending on the vaccine.

People most at risk for severe illness and complications include pregnant women, children younger than 5 and especially those younger than 2, people 65 and older and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease and weakened immune systems. Alcohol based gels are the next best thing if you don't have accessto soap and water. As is traditional, editorials are unsigned and meant to be seen as the voice of the news organization. And while flu activity may be peaking, Jernigan warned there will still be several weeks of activity, which will likely see more infections caused by influenza B strains. "Usually what happens with influenza is it keeps changing its RNN and DNN, so it's modifying themselves and that's why we're not getting a good strain target".

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Parkland Hospital in Dallas has seen nearly 1,000 people coming to their emergency department seeking treatment.

"It's not too late yet to get a flu shot", said IDPH Medical Director and State Epidemiologist, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. They say it can protect you from the other strains, and it can help you if do end up getting sick.

"At this time, it's the best tool we have", Ferrer said.

This year's flu season has been markedly worse than those of the last few years. The last time Arizona saw a surge in flu cases and deaths was in 2009, when the H1N1 strain broke out, which led to the deaths of over 900 Arizonans. TDH recommends that people who are not severely ill call their health care provider first to talk about whether they need to be seen, and if so, where would be most appropriate place to go. Doctors advise everyone to: cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing, stay at home when you or your child is sick for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, and wash your hands as frequently as possible.

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