HARTFORD – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) said as of Jan. 6 of this year, a total of 1,015 patients have tested positive for influenza, with 456 hospitalized patients admitted between Aug. 27 and Jan. 6. Officials also said 15 flu-related deaths in individuals 65 years and older have been reported to date this flu season.
DPH officials said this year’s flu virus has been particularly severe among people aged 65 and older thus far, according to a release. In fact, recent data revealed by the DPH indicates 70 percent of all patients who have been hospitalized with influenza were from this particular age group.
The most prevalent strain of influenza seen in Connecticut thus far this season is Influenza A (H3N2), which typically causes more severe illness than other flu strains.
Officials also reports a steep increase in the number of Connecticut residents who have been hospitalized with the flu over the past five weeks. If this flu season is similar to the past two, then Connecticut could be four to six weeks away from peak influenza activity, which DPH officials said would probably be in mid-February.
“In the midst of a troubling increase in flu hospitalizations, I strongly urge all Connecticut residents to remember to get their flu shot,” Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a release. “We are just a few weeks away from peak flu activity, so everyone – especially those aged 65 years or older, should take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from this illness.”
“This year’s flu virus appears to be affecting older persons especially hard,” DPH Commissioner Raul Pino said in a release. “It is not too late to get a flu shot, and some people who are sick with influenza may need to be treated with an antiviral medication.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the use of antiviral medications for treatment of the flu this year is even more important than usual. Officials are also advising doctors that all hospitalized and all high-risk patients with suspected influenza should be treated as soon as possible with a neuraminidase inhibitor antiviral.
While antiviral drugs work best when treatment is started within 2 days of illness onset, clinical benefit has been observed even when treatment is initiated later, officials said.
“The protection provided by a flu shot against contracting the virus or at a bare minimum lessening the severity and duration of the illness if you get the flu cannot be understated. I strongly recommend anyone who has not yet received the flu vaccine to get one as soon as possible,” Pino said. “It is not too late to protect yourself from what is looking to be a particularly strong flu season.”
Typical symptoms of the flu include:
- sudden fever
- aching muscles
- sore throat
- runny nose
- eye pain
While anyone can contract the flu, particularly people who are not vaccinated, the illness is especially dangerous for certain groups, including:
- people aged 65 and older
- children younger than 2-years-old
- pregnant women
- people of any age with chronic medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, congestive heart failure or lung disease
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