Flu slows, but DE health officials still advise caution


Last week, local health providers notified the county Health and Human Services Agency of 708 newly-confirmed flu cases, a number that's up from the previous weekly total of 542. The flu season runs through May. "We don't know. It's really hard to predict flu, but it could be a month and a half", Fry said. The latest seven-day-long snapshot is somewhat ahead of flu activity over the last three years, according to the county's report, but remains a far cry from the heights seen around the turn of the year when the H3N2 variant particularly resistant to this year's vaccine was heavily dominant in the community. Deaths from the flu or pneumonia are going down, too. "There still is a lot of flu out there", Dr. Alicia Fry, who works in the influenza division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday, according to NPR.

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"The season's not over but we're definitely on the downward trend right now", said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC's acting director.

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Those numbers, though, are only for people who went to a doctor to get tested. In early January, it hit what seemed like peak levels - but then continued to surge. But another kind that hits children hard has picked up steam. And the season could end up lasting longer than expected, Haselow said. That will also help prevent the spread of other respiratory viruses that circulate during the winter, he said. In a bad season, there are as many as 56,000 deaths connected to the flu. "We strongly encourage everyone to continue practicing the important preventive measures we have been promoting including staying home when you're sick, calling your doctor at the first signs of flu-like illness, washing your hands frequently, and covering coughs and sneezes".

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