Clark County health officials warn of uptick in flu cases

Clark County health officials warned Southern Nevadans on Monday about an uptick in the number of flu cases reported this season and encouraged everyone to get vaccinated after a surge of cases in Northern Nevada.

One local senior suffered a flu-related death this season and 31 confirmed flu cases have been reported in Clark County over the past eight weeks as compared with 26 cases during the same time last year, the Southern Nevada Health District said in a statement.

That’s about a 19 percent spike. The increase comes as health officials in Washoe County grapple with a “high number of laboratory-confirmed cases and a number of deaths associated with pneumonia and flu,” the statement said.

In that area, deaths linked to influenza and pneumonia have topped the epidemic threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the seventh week of flu season, which is the most recent data available, 10 out of 97 total deaths in the Washoe area were linked to pneumonia or influenza, according to the Washoe County Health District.

That’s about 10.3 percent of all deaths. The CDC’s epidemic threshold issued about a month ago for this season’s cases is 6.8 percent.

And an increase in Northern Nevada cases could boost the number of cases locally, the health district said.

As a result, the district issued a reminder on vaccinations, encouraging everyone 6 months older or older — especially young children, the elderly, pregnant women and others at high risk of complications — to get their annual vaccinations.

“During the holiday season, people travel more often, are in social settings, may be under more stress, and not have the time to practice healthy habits,” said Southern Nevada Health District Chief Health Officer Dr. Joseph Iser in the statement. “These factors, coupled with an increase in flu activity, make now the time to get a flu shot so everyone can have a healthy and happy holiday season.”

In 2015, about 37 percent of Nevada’s population received the flu vaccine — the lowest rate in the nation, according to CDC estimates and the Washoe County Health District.

The exact number of flu cases in an area is difficult to track, because many people don’t report having the flu to their physicians or health authorities.

The flu also often goes unreported on death certificates, as it can be accompanied by other conditions, and states don’t have to report flu cases or deaths in adults.

Contact Pashtana Usufzy at pusufzy@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @pashtana_u on Twitter.

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