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Healthy Living: Washington sees spike in flu cases statewide

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There's a spike in flu cases right now in Washington State and doctors are telling people it's not too late to get the flu vaccine.

At the end of December, the Washington State Department of Health reported 20 deaths have been attributed to the flu in the 2017-2018 flu season.  That means 20 deaths since October.

The U.S. Centers for Disease control also reported this week, 36 states, including Washington are now seeing widespread flu activity.

In Seattle, patient visits to the emergency department for flu symptoms are numbering about six per day at Harborview Medical Center.  Dr. John Lynch, a infection control specialist with UW Medicine says "What we really want people to do is to stay at home if they're sick if they don't need medical attendance.  Coming into the emergency room is probably not going to help most people.  Now, if you do have a medial problem of if you're very young or very old, we definitely want you seen by your primary care provider or another clinic or if you have severe symptoms, please come to the emergency department."

A lot of people have been asking, how effective is the flu vaccine this year?  Australia for example has already been through the yearly flu season and they reported a severe year.  Date from down under shows the effectiveness of this year's vaccine in Australia was only about 10%.  That does not necessarily predict how the virus and vaccine will act in the U.S., but it can one indicator.

The Centers for Disease Control suggests that last year's vaccine in the U.S. was 39% effective, a better predictor for protection this year.

A California father is fighting for his life after ignoring flu symptoms and not getting the shot.  He had chest congestion, a headache and a body ache, but even though he was sick, he continued to work and didn't rest.  The next thing his family knew, they were in the emergency room and he had to be sedated.  He was in renal failure and his white blood count was through the roof, with severe pneumonia.  His wife says the whole family opted out of the shot because the success rate was so low.  Now she wishes they had been more careful.  The couple has four children and two of them also tested positive for the virus. Fortunately, both are going to be okay.  As for the dad, he is still in the hospital recovering.

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