Flu season has spared Nevada so far, but it won’t stay that way for long

If you live in Nevada, California, Hawaii, Montana, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota or Wisconsin – states reporting minimal levels of influenza – the way the British media characterize the flu season in the United States may seem more than a tad feverish.

“Flu infections sweep America hospitalizing thousands and leaving 18 children dead of complications, and it’s going to get worse,” a recent headline in the Daily Mail, the United Kingdom’s second-largest newspaper, screamed to its 4 million readers.

If you live in the 40 other U.S. states, however, the British aren’t engaging in journalistic hyperbole but are, in fact, pretty much on the mark, with many state officials fearing this could be one of the worst flu seasons in years.

Nearly 2,300 people have been hospitalized with the flu, and 18 children have died from ramifications of the virus. Positive cases of influenza in the United States rose 60 percent during the last week of December.

Officials with the surveillance and response team that monitors influenza for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases describe the outbreak as about five weeks ahead of the average flu season.

So why has Las Vegas, where people come from all over the nation and world to enjoy themselves, had only 12 confirmed cases in the past five weeks?

“We’ve been lucky so far,” said Brian Labus, a senior epidemiologist with the Southern Nevada Health District. “We’ve had a typical start to our flu season. A lot simply depends on how people interact. It’s been pretty slow.”

Labus wouldn’t bet on it staying that way, given experience with the virus in Nevada.

“We’re probably a couple weeks away from being hit,” he predicted, noting that with winter, when more people stay inside close quarters, the virus often spreads faster. “That’s why it’s important for people to get their flu shots now.”

Labus said the current vaccine is a good protective match for the flu strain now in the country. In fact, when the CDC performed DNA testing on a sample of positive flu tests to compare it with the DNA of the three strains in the flu shot, only two of the 400 flu samples analyzed did not match the vaccine.

If what is happening across the country occurs in Nevada, it could mean trouble.

In Ohio, 863 people have been hospitalized with the flu, compared with 65 by this time in the 2011-2012 season. The number of people hospitalized in Minnesota is on track to reach as high a number as the state suffered in 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic —- 1,800.

Since Oct. 1, the Southern Nevada Health District has administered 9,222 flu shots, compared with 11,901 during the same time frame last year. The number of flu shots given by other providers in Southern Nevada is not available.

“There is still plenty of vaccine available,” said Stephanie Bethel, a spokeswoman for the district.

From January through Nov. 30 of last year, Southern Nevada had 369 cases of flu. In 2011, there were 459 confirmed cases of flu reported locally and 184 in 2010.

In 2009, when the H1N1 pandemic hit the country, an unusually high 5,557 cases of flu were reported in the Las Vegas Valley and a staggering 61 million estimated nationwide by the CDC.

Deaths from H1N1 hit 40 in Southern Nevada, and the CDC estimated as many as 18,000 died from the virus nationwide.

Health officials across the country say that three of four people now reporting flu symptoms had not been vaccinated.

In the week ending Dec. 29, the CDC reported 2,961 positive influenza test results out of 9,363 specimens nationwide, or 31.6 percent. Near the Great Lakes, the hardest-hit region, nearly 60 percent of those who were checked tested positive for the flu.

Labus noted that most people ride out the flu at home and are never tested for the virus.

Flu symptoms vary widely in severity. Some years have seen as many as 200,000 hospitalized and 3,000 to 49,000 dead.

Those most at risk for the flu are seniors, children and infants, and pregnant women.

Changes to a woman’s immune system during pregnancy can make her more sensitive to the flu. This can result in serious problems for the unborn baby, including premature labor and delivery. Also, fever in early pregnancy can lead to birth defects. Pregnant women, Labus said, should get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.

Children are at higher risk for the flu because their immune systems are not fully developed.

Each year in the United States, an average of 20,000 children younger than 5 are hospitalized for flu-related complications. During the 2011-2012 flu season, 26 deaths of children were reported to the CDC, eight more than have been reported this season.

Because immune systems weaken with age, adults 65 and older are more susceptible to the flu. Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in this age group.

Seniors have two options for vaccination: the regular dose flu shot and the high-dose shot that results in a stronger immune response.

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@
reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

NSPCA Gets Kittens From LA
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon
"Jackson: The Red Rock Canyon Burro" is a children's book about Red Rock Canyon (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Interfaith Amigos speak in Las Vegas
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like