The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reported Nov. 22 that influenza cases in Arizona have tripled compared to previous seasons, with more than half of reported cases this season in infants, children, and adolescents.

As of Nov. 23, the ADHS site reports statewide there were 1,648 confirmed cases, with 41 percent of those in youngsters 5 to 18; 27 percent in young adults, ages 19 to 49; 19 percent in infants through age 4; 6 percent in those age 50 to 64; and another 6 percent in those 65 and older.

Most of the cases, 71 percent, are of the B/Victoria strain.

All counties in Arizona have reported influenza cases. Gila County had four laboratory-confirmed cases.

“Keep in mind that lab-confirmed cases are not always a great representation of how ‘bad’ flu season is. Doctors are not required to submit information on quick swabs and the mandatory reporting guidelines are not as rigorous with flu as with other diseases (that and the fact that so many people don’t go to the doctor for their flu symptoms).

“We usually look at trends or comparisons of year to year lab-confirmed cases as a better indicator (which is still not an exact science). In which case this is a fairly par for the course beginning to flu season,” said Joshua Beck, MS, MPH, Gila County Division of Health and Emergency Management.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get your flu vaccine now if you haven’t already,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the ADHS.

“Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness and can lead to hospitalization or even death. With the holidays right around the corner and people attending gatherings with friends and family, getting a flu shot today can help stop the spread of the disease.”

There are many different options to obtain your flu shot. You can use FluFinder to find a vaccine provider near you. For questions regarding the 2019-2020 influenza vaccine, call your local county health department or the Arizona Immunization Program Office at 602-364-3630. Influenza vaccine recommendations are available on the CDC’s website. For more information, visit azdhs.gov/flu.

Simple, everyday measures like washing your hands, covering your cough, and staying home when sick can help prevent spreading influenza and other illnesses. Stay up-to-date on influenza activity in Arizona throughout the season by viewing the weekly reports on the ADHS website, and subscribe at azhealth.gov/email to receive the influenza report via email.

Christ offered the following in a blog from January 2016: The difference between a cold and the flu:

Lately it seems like there are a lot of people sick with a cold or the flu. Respiratory viruses often circulate in the wintertime ... But when your aunt skips out on a family dinner because she has the flu, is that really what’s making her sick, or does she actually have a cold?

The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses that cause similar symptoms, but different viruses spread them. The flu is almost always worse than the common cold. Unlike the flu, it is rare for a common cold to cause complications like pneumonia, bacterial infections, or hospitalization. While you are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose if you have a cold, you’ll know you probably have the flu if you have a fever, extreme tiredness, body aches, and a dry cough.

The bottom line is, whether you have a cold or the flu, it’s important that you stay home until you’re feeling better so you don’t get others sick. Wash your hands often — especially after blowing or wiping your nose — so you don’t spread germs throughout your home. And cover your cough with your elbow or sleeve.

If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, there’s still time to make sure you don’t catch the flu in addition to a winter cold.

Contact the reporter at tmcquerrey@payson.com

Contact the reporter at

tmcquerrey@payson.com

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