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The flu season is underway, though it's not too late to fight against influenza, according to information from Prowers County Public Health and Environment, as requested by the Lamar Ledger.

Almost all of the outbreaks (94%) reported so far this season have been in facilities serving people at higher risk for complications due to influenza infection (children and adults aged ≥65 years).

Flu-related deaths are on the rise in Central Alberta with eight reported as of January 13 according to statistics released Thursday. The study's authors say that while washing your hands, keeping surfaces clean, and avoiding people who are coughing are still good preventative measures to take, they may not be enough to keep you totally safe.

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Usually, flu seasons start to wane after so much activity, but "it's hard to predict", Jernigan said. This year is particularly bad because it is dominated by the influenza A (H3N2) strain, which cause more severe symptoms than other strains of flu.

People remain at risk until the end of flu season, which is in May.

Unfortunately, this year's strains aren't as responsive to the vaccine with a rate of just 30% effectiveness against the H3 viruses. "So it still helps and it is your number one way to prevent getting the flu each year", said Cronley.

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"The vaccine still does prevent some infections, but more importantly, those who do get infected with influenza, are likely to have less severe disease, fewer complications as well".

"The CDC has said that the flu season is peaking earlier than normal", said Dr. Ulysses Wu, chief of infectious disease at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. Overall, more than 1,300 have been tested for the flu given their symptoms. "Being vaccinated is going to assure you to have at least a shorter duration of illness and probably a milder flu", said Dr. Jennifer Dumas with American Family Care. In Mississippi, flu outbreaks have hit more than 100 nursing homes and other long-term care places, resulting in some restricting visitors. Those affected most by influenza are people over 65 years of age and children.

According to the Lewis County Public Health Agency, there has been a rise in local flu cases in that county. Prowers County Public Health still has flu vaccine for children and adults.

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