For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Oxarart
775.328.2414 or 775.772.1659
First death of the 2018/19 flu season reported in Washoe County
Get vaccinated now for protection through the holidays
The Washoe County Health District is reporting the first flu-related death of the 2018/19 flu season in Washoe County. The victim was over 65 years old and at risk for flu-related complications due to underlying medical conditions in addition to their advanced age. It does not appear that the individual had been vaccinated this year for the flu.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to this and any family that is tragically impacted by a hospitalization or death associated with the flu,” said Washoe County District Health Officer Kevin Dick. “Flu is a serious virus that can be fatal, so people must take every precaution to prevent getting sick. The best way to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot. It’s quick and easy, and vaccine is available at locations throughout the community.” Dick said.
Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get an annual flu shot. Those at especially high-risk for complications from the flu are children under five years-old, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and persons with certain medical conditions including chronic lung disease, heart disease, and diabetes. It takes between one and two weeks after a flu shot for the vaccine to reach its optimum protection level. However, there are also other preventive measures everyone should practice all the time to prevent the flu and other illnesses. Those steps include:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- When you are sick, keep your distance from others and stay home from work, school, and errands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Or, cough or sneeze into your sleeve. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Wash your hands often. This will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
Influenza killed about 80,000 people in the 2017-2018 season, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The previous high for a regular flu season, based on analyses dating back more than three decades, was 56,000 deaths. A summary of last year’s flu activity can be found at: www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm
Locally, influenza surveillance and reporting begins in late September or early October with the highest flu activity in the Washoe County community typically peeking in December through February. Last flu season (2017-18) serves as a reminder of how serious flu can be. The peak influenza like illness (ILI) activity reached 6.6% and ILI activity was above the regional baseline for 11 weeks. A total of 542 hospitalizations and 26 deaths due to flu were reported. Nationwide 185 children died from the flu. Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received the flu vaccine.
For information about flu shots, clinic locations and events visit Immunize Nevada’s website at: https://www.immunizenevada.org/community/where-go.
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