This 3D graphic represents the biology and structure of a generic influenza virus. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

This 3D graphic represents the biology and structure of a generic influenza virus. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Reports of flu are dropping fast in Snohomish County

Through March 30, there have been 160 flu deaths statewide, including 19 in Snohomish County.

EVERETT —It’s time to bid adieu to the flu.

Last week, local clinics, emergency rooms and hospitals saw a marked drop in flu activity.

“We are nearing the end of flu season,” said Dr. Yuan-Po Tu, who monitors influenza issues for The Everett Clinic. “We still have a moderate amount of influenza, but the number of patients is decreasing rapidly.”

In some ways, winter and early spring brought two flu seasons in one year. Early on, the predominant virus was Influenza A H1N1. In March and into April, most cases reported were Influenza A H3N2, which can be more life-threatening for seniors and people with chronic health conditions.

Flu cases at The Everett Clinic peaked three weeks ago when there were around 800 positive tests in the week leading into March 17. Last week that number dipped to around 200.

Last year, 296 influenza-related deaths were reported across the state. The year before, there were 278. This year, through March 30, there have been 160, according to the state Department of Health. This year’s total is still the third-highest over the last nine years, according to state records.

As of the most recent reporting period, which ended March 30, there have been 19 deaths, including one child, attributed to flu in Snohomish County. In addition, 321 people had been hospitalized. There also have been 11 long-term care facilities that have reported influenza-like outbreaks.

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. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

Although the aches and fever caused by the flu can make someone miserable, it generally can be treated at home by drinking fluids and taking over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Those over 65 and people with chronic conditions such as asthma should continue to be vigilant and consult a doctor if they develop respiratory issues. Caution also should be taken with children and pregnant women.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

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