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More than 800 flu cases and one death says health department

Posted at 2:52 PM, Dec 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-23 19:17:40-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's not even Christmas. but flu season has hit Nebraska and Douglas County hard.

The Douglas County Health Department says over two-thousand cases of influenza have been reported, over 800 of them have been confirmed this week.

"We're breaking records, so we've seen more positive influenza test results than we've done before,” says Dr. Anne O’Keefe, senior epidemiologist.

The CDC reports the rates of flu-like illness in Nebraska, as among the highest in the country.

At least one local case has been fatal, with Douglas County saying today, one person over 65 years old has died.

"This is one of the age groups that is at risk, people who are older, who have other medical conditions that can be exasperated by the flu,” says Dr. O’Keefe.

At Clarkson Family Medicine, they opened up a flu clinic just a few weeks ago, since then they've seen an influx of patients who think they have the flu.

"We're already seeing 50 patients for our flu clinic, that doesn't mean they all have the flu, but those were people that thought they had an illness similar to it, at least their symptoms sounded like flu,” says Dr. Scott McPherson, Medical Director at Clarkson Family Medicine.

Dr. McPherson says they've mainly seen Influenza A at his clinic and when somebody gets the virus, it lasts four to five days. It also spreads easily, so if you get it right before family Christmas, you need to be extra careful.

"Well they are contagious. So they have to take that into consideration, I'm not going to tell somebody they can't spend time with their family, but there's a risk,” says Dr. McPherson.

The health department and Dr.McPherson say flu shots are key, and it's not too late to get one this season.

"This year it's been very effective, it is helping to reduce at least the illness if they get influenza or it may completely prevent it,” says Dr. McPherson.
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The report:

  • Douglas County continues to experience extremely high levels of influenza activity, with 813 laboratory-confirmed cases reported last week. This is the most cases ever reported in a single week.
  • The first influenza-related adult death (over 65 years of age) was reported last week in Douglas County.
  • Influenza B continues to increase, however, influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 remains the predominant circulating strain.
  • Nebraska is one of 19 states experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) activity.
  • Six outbreaks in long-term care (LTC) facilities and one in a correctional facility have been reported.
  • It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk from flu and its potentially serious complications. Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza.

Flu activity continues to increase in Douglas County. The number of reported cases have increased over the last few weeks. Also, the current percentage of outpatient visits with influenza-like illness (ILI), percentage of emergency department visits with ILI, percentage of hospital admissions with ILI, and percent of children absent from school due to illness all continue to increase (Table 2).

A total of 2,404 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza have been reported this season (since September 29, 2019), with 813 cases reported last week (Table 1, Figure 1 in full report). A total of 731 cases were rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT) influenza type A, 1,237 were PCR-confirmed influenza type A (144 as A H1N1, and one as A H3), 163 were RIDT influenza type B, and 273 were PCR-confirmed influenza type B.

The first influenza-related adult death (over 65 years of age) was reported last week. Douglas County Health Department has not received any reports of pediatric death due to influenza this season. Influenza-associated adult death are not reportable by law and may be underreported. Six outbreaks in long-term care (LTC) facilities have been reported (CDC guidance for LTC: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/infectioncontrol/ltc-facility-guidance.htm [douglascountyhealth.com]).

A total of 203 positive respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) tests were reported (of 799 tested) last week.