The number of flu cases in Alabama is on the rise

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As the flu continues spreading across every state but Hawaii and the District of Columbia, Summit County this season has counted five flu-related deaths, including one pediatric death, reports Summit County Public Health. Statewide there have been 27 flu deaths of patients under the age of 65.

The number of Californians under 65 who've died of the flu has jumped to 42, compared with nine at the same time a year ago, state officials said Friday.

"This is a bad flu season", Dr. Dan Jernigan, director of the influenza division of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a conference call Friday.

Experts say the flu shot may be only 30% effective this year, but can still reduce the severity of symptoms for people who get the flu. While vaccine effectiveness is usually between 30 percent and 60 percent, the CDC stresses that "influenza vaccination is the most effective now available method to prevent influenza and its complications".

The Alabama Department of Public Health is urging everyone that falls ill with the flu to contact their primary doctor. The lone flu death in Marin County this year involved a person under 65, and it's not known if the person was vaccinated.

Haggie says there are suggestions that one of the four strains of the virus contained in this year's influenza vaccine is less than ideal.

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Most people with the flu are able to treat themselves at home with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and over the counter medications, health officials say, but in some, the disease can lead to complications including pneumonia, seizures, and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart or lung disease. Alabama is one of 26 states reporting high levels of influenza-like Illness. Flu viruses circulate in the Southern Hemisphere before they hit the United States, so the flu season in Australia can predict how bad flu season will be in the U.S.

More than 300 people have been hospitalized and least four have died from influenza-related illnesses in Georgia this season.

"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. The deaths this season are also higher compared to the 2014-2015 season, where there were 16 deaths up until this point in the flu season. "What we can see is there's been a very rapid increase in the numbers of people coming in to see their doctors or health care providers".

The CDC is highly recommending people get their flu shot despite any public consternation that this year's flu shot isn't a good defense against this year's virus.

Iowa joined most other states in declaring the flu "widespread" across the state in the last week of 2017.

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