Vermont health officials say flu season could last several more months

BURLINGTON, Vt. - This year's flu season is shaping up to be a nasty one.

"To have that designation this early in January is a little unusual,” said Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont Commissioner of Health.

Levine says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports flu activity is 'widespread' in every state but Hawaii. Levine says it's measured by which percentage of patients are at the doctors with flu like symptoms.

Levine said, "The number in Vermont is about 3% of all visits and nationwide it's crept up to about 6%... The northeast is lagging behind the country in terms of the flu becoming more active and spreading."

Across the country, there have been a number of pediatric deaths reported, including one child in New York. Dr. Levine says children are among the most vulnerable.

Levine said, "I think in general that's true in any given season so I don't want to make it sound like this season is different than other, it’s another reason why we recommend all children over six months of age get vaccinated."

Some symptoms too look out for include a dry cough, body aches and a fever. The CDC is expecting this year's vaccine to be 30% effective. Levine says with multiple strains out there, it's better late than never.

"We are seeing small percentages of them now but the prominent b strain usually is a later appearing strain in the flu season so there is still time to protect that," explained Levine.

As parts of the country are starting to see relief, Levine said those in the Northeast shouldn't let their guard down, "We have every right to believe the flu will get worse in Vermont... The duration of the season can be anywhere from eight to 12 more weeks."

Health officials reminds folks the best prevention is proper hygiene, particularly hand-washing and if you’re sick stay home from school or work.


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