A Bothell woman in her 30s has died from the flu, the first such death in Snohomish County this flu season.
The woman died Saturday in a King County hospital, Snohomish Health District officials said Monday. She first became ill on Dec. 31.
In Washington, there now have been six confirmed deaths from the flu this season, including two in King County, according to Donn Moyer, a state Department of Health spokesman.
Some physicians are saying this could be the most severe flu season since the H1N1 swine flu epidemic of 2009.
“I think it will be a very severe influenza season,” said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, who tracks flu issues at The Everett Clinic. “My estimate is that we are about one-third of the way through influenza season.”
This year’s flu is not a pandemic virus, Tu said, because this season’s flu vaccine includes protection against it. “It just happens to be a nasty H1N1,” he said.
Sixteen patients have been hospitalized with flu at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett since December, said Cheri Russum, hospital spokeswoman. Three patients currently are being treated for influenza in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
“It’s that time of year,” she said. “We need to get people immunized. We’re starting to see higher numbers.”
Health officials recommend annual flu immunization for everyone six months and older.
Influenza typically hits people 65 and older particularly hard. But the H1N1 virus, including the one circulating this year, tends to sicken younger people, those under 65, the most.
Up to a third of walk-in patients coming to The Everett Clinic have flu-like symptoms, including high fever, cough and muscle aches, Tu said.
Influenza can trigger other serious illnesses, such as pneumonia. The number of walk-in patients with flu-like symptoms who have been diagnosed with pneumonia has been higher than in recent years, Tu said.
In Snohomish County, flu cases began to spike the week before Christmas. That trend has continued. In the week ending Saturday, 17.5 percent of Everett Clinic patients who were tested had results indicating they had the flu.
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flu shots available
Free flu and whooping-cough shots will be offered for uninsured, low-income adults at two events this week:
Friday: 10 a.m. to noon at Everett Station, 3201 Smith Ave.
Saturday: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Comcast Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave.
The immunizations will be provided by the Snohomish Health District and Medical Reserve Corps. The vaccine also is available at area medical clinics and pharmacies in Snohomish County.