For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.276.1021
RENO, NV – In its Week 9 Influenza Surveillance Program Weekly Report, the Washoe County Health District is reporting the highest level of flu activity so far this year and its first confirmed death caused by influenza in the Truckee Meadows in the 2015-2016 flu season.
According to health officials the fatality was a person over 65 years-old with additional health factors and with no record of getting a flu vaccination this year. The Health District’s surveillance also indicates that the victim contracted Influenza Type A. “Influenza is highly contagious, and any persons who have not had a flu shot may be at risk of catching the disease,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “Persons at particular risk for complications include: children aged 6 months - 4 years (59 months); people 50 years and older; pregnant women; and, persons with chronic illness.”
The number of seasonal flu-related deaths varies from year to year because flu seasons are unpredictable and often fluctuate in length and severity. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that deaths range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 annually. According to Dick, “Our epidemiologists at the Health District usually begin seeing cases of flu in northern Nevada and Washoe County around the beginning of December with the highest number of cases seen in January and February; but, this year activity was light in earlier months with March now starting to show levels above the regional and national baseline.”
Health official remind everyone that it’s always a good idea to get a flu shot to keep from getting sick. Full protection against the flu is not achieved for two weeks after receiving the vaccine, so persons are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible to protect themselves through the remainder of this flu season.
Influenza can be treated with antiviral drugs if administered within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms. Drugs can reduce the severity and shorten the duration of the illness among healthy individuals. “Your best protection against the flu is to get a shot,’ said Dick. “Together with a flu shot, other preventative measures like frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying at home when sick can also reduce the risk of transmission.”
Flu vaccine is available throughout the area at pharmacies, health providers, physicians, and the Health District. More information on flu vaccines available in the area can be found at www.immunizenevada.org.