Flu cases double in Spokane as epidemiologists track early flu season

Flu cases double in Spokane as epidemiologists track early flu season

In just the last week alone, the Spokane Regional Health District has seen a doubling of the flu cases in Spokane.

“Right now we are seeing a lot of flu activity in Spokane,” said Mark Springer, an epidemiologist with the SRHD. “We have seen seven deaths so far, all were elderly and all but one didn’t have documentation of receiving a flu vaccine.”

He says this year there are three major strains of the flu, H1N1, H3N2 and influenza B.

H3N2 is the strain that is causing the most trouble for the elderly, those with other health issues, and younger children.

The symptoms to expect are coughing, congestion, body aches, fatigue and fever. Springer says if symptoms get severe or you begin to have trouble breathing, go see a doctor immediately.

He says your best bet for avoiding the symptoms is to get a vaccine, even if this year’s is not proving the most effective.

“Even if the vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it can protect you against the symptoms and complications, like hospitalizations and death,” he said.

He says this year’s early peak might cause bigger transmission problems since it caught Spokane right as children are headed back to school.

“Parents, if your kids are sick with flu-like symptoms, keep them home,” he said.

As for how long this flu season might last, that is still unknown.

“This could be something that peaks early and tapers off after January or it could be something mirrors our typical flu season and continue for the next two months,” Springer said.