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Flu Death Toll Climbs Again In Connecticut

Flu shots.
Flu shots. Photo Credit: UFHealth.org

There have been three more deaths related to influenza in Connecticut reported last week, bringing the total to 25 this flu season.

The Connecticut Department of Health issued its report for the week ending on Saturday, Feb. 9 and the virus continues to spread throughout the state. Despite the high body count, it is still less deaths than this time last year. Officials from the Connecticut State Health Department announced this week that the flu is spreading rapidly throughout the state, with some hospitals reportedly limiting visitation to prevent the spread of the virus.

According to health officials, "in Connecticut, the Department of Public Health uses multiple systems to monitor circulating influenza viruses. During the influenza season, weekly flu updates are posted from October of the current year, through May of the following year. Annual summaries are also posted for comparison. The national flu picture may vary from what we are seeing on a state level."

Flu season kicks off in earnest in October each year, though patients can still be susceptible to certain strains in September, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC said that reported cases tend to increase in November before peaking between December and February. Flu season typically lasts through the middle of the spring. The organization estimates that flu has resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses each year in the United States and several deaths. Of those illnesses, an estimated 9 percent were hospitalized.

In Connecticut, the “influenza activity classification” has gone from “sporadic,” to “local,” before being dubbed as “regional” on Nov. 24. It is now at "widespread," as flu activity remains elevated after rapidly increasing last month.

To date, a total of 1,425 hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influence have been admitted between Aug. 26 last year and Feb. 9. There have been a total of 3,869 influenza positive laboratory tests have been reported, including 811 in Fairfield County.

Of the 25 influenza-associated deaths, 21 were associated with unspecific strains, one was connected to H3N2 and two had cases of influenza B. Of the deaths, 15 were over the age of 65, and nine were between the ages of 50 and 64. One death was someone between 25 and 49 years old.

It takes approximately two weeks following the vaccination for the antibodies to protect against flu to develop in the body, so make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins.

CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October, though there is still time to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout flu season, even into January or later.

According to the CDC, the flu infects the respiratory tract. “As the infection progresses, the body’s immune system responds to fight the virus.

"This results in inflammation that can trigger respiratory symptoms such as a cough and sore throat. The immune system response can also trigger fever and cause muscle or body aches. When infected persons cough, sneeze, or talk, they can spread influenza viruses in respiratory droplets to people who are nearby. People might also get flu by touching a contaminated surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.”

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