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News / Health / Clark County Health

Flu activity reaches new peak in Clark County

44% of flu tests positive in year’s first week

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian Health Reporter
Published: January 15, 2018, 5:14pm

Flu activity is hitting a new high in Clark County.

During the first week of the new year, the most recent data available, nearly 44 percent of flu tests were coming back positive. That’s the highest local positivity rate recorded since Clark County Public Health began tracking more detailed data in 2014. And the January rate beats out the previous high of 41 percent from the prior week.

Flu activity is widespread across Washington and in all states but Hawaii, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Washington, health officials have recorded 46 flu-related deaths.

At least one Clark County resident — a man older than 65 — has died from the flu this year.

“Indicators used to track influenza-like-activity (ILI) are similar to what was seen during the peak of the 2014-2015 season, a season of high severity,” according to the CDC’s weekly FluView report.

The vast majority of illness across the country has been caused by influenza A H3N2 — a strain associated with more severe illness and hospitalizations, according to the CDC. And so far this year, hospitalization rates are up but remain lower than the rates during the severe 2014-15 season.

Health officials expect flu activity to continue for several more weeks.

Local hospitals are seeing high admission rates for influenza and busier-than-normal emergency departments.

The surge in flu activity prompted health officials to encourage people with flu-like illness to contact their health care providers before visiting emergency departments.

“Most people who have the flu will be uncomfortable but do not need to go to an emergency department,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, county health officer and public health director, in a news release.

Those experiencing the following symptoms, however, should seek medical attention at an emergency department: difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, blue lips or skin rash, unable to keep liquids down, confusion or cannot be woken up and, among children younger than 3 months, a fever.

Columbian Health Reporter