EVERETT — Good riddance.
It has stuck around like those uninvited distant relatives who came for the weekend and stayed for three months. Now it appears to be leaving, but is sure to return again next year.
“We are finally at the end of the longest influenza season,” Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, who monitors influenza issues for The Everett Clinic, said in an email. “The number of positive tests are finally back toward baseline.”
The Snohomish Health District also has reported “a big decrease” in the number of recent flu-related hospitalizations.
“It’s definitely in the right direction,” said Heather Thomas, a spokeswoman for the health agency.
The flu varies from year-to-year and this go-around was remarkably long.
It’s blamed for the deaths of 281 people across the state during the 2017-2018 flu season. That includes 39 from Snohomish County, the second highest total in the last nine years. Those numbers represent lab-confirmed influenza deaths.
There have been 505 reported influenza hospitalizations in Snohomish County with patients ranging from 1 to 101 years of age.
A year ago, there was a dramatic influenza spike that flooded hospitals and emergency rooms, but the worst came and went over about 12 weeks. This year, fewer people have died, but the season has lasted weeks longer.
There are still cases of the flu, as there tend to be year-round, but the numbers have dropped sharply.
“People need to be aware and vigilant all year round,” Thomas said.
The region has been hit by two waves of the flu — the first predominated by Influenza A; the second by Influenza B.
Flu symptoms typically start suddenly and include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, fatigue and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea. However, not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
Although the body aches and fever caused by the flu can make someone miserable, it often can be treated at home by drinking fluids and taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.