Flu season arrives in Spokane County

Flu season arrives in Spokane County

The first case of the flu in Spokane County was confirmed by the Spokane County Regional Health District on Thursday.

“Our first case, he tested positive for influenza A,” Health District Spokeswoman Kim Papich said.

The affected person was a man in his 70s. He was admitted to the hospital back in September and was diagnosed with the most common flu type. This strain, however, was H3, which is the same strain that hit the senior population hard last year.

“We had a bad flu season, we had a hard flu season last year,” Papich said.

The Health District reports that from September 2013 to January 2014 there were 162 people that were hospitalized because of the flu. December saw 62 people hospitalized because of the flu. Just a month later, that number grew to 99 in January. The first hospitalization didn’t occur until November.

“The first case is early, so that should speak more strongly to the case to go get your flu shots now,” Papich said.

The Health District also reports that 15 people died last year because of the flu, the majority were elderly. In the midst of the Ebola scare, local health experts are warning that the flu is more common and can be just as lethal.

“We know it takes a tremendous toll on our community every year,” Papich said. “Even though some of these other things are more novel and things we haven’t heard of, really flu is the bigger risk.”

Papich said that’s why the Health District is urging everyone to get the flu shot sooner than later. She adds there’s many different types of vaccines that cater to almost anyone’s needs. A list of available vaccines can be found by going to their website at http://www.srhd.org.

“One thing that seniors can do to protect themselves is they can get a high dose flu shot and offers way more antibodies that will help them ward off flu easier,” Papich said.

The Health District is offering a free childhood vaccination clinic on October 14 from 5-7 p.m. at Trent Elementary. Any child up to the age of 18 can get their flu shot for free, parents are asked to bring vaccine records. Any questions, can be answered by calling Stephanie Steinman at 509-241-5348.