Erie County noticed extra flu circumstances final week than it has in any single week in at the least twenty years, greater than it did in the course of the peak week of the H1N1 pandemic in late 2009 or the record-setting flu season of 2019-20.
Erie County Division of Well being officers reported 647 flu circumstances from Nov. 20-26, a 66% enhance from the earlier week — which was a 51% enhance from two weeks earlier. The earlier weekly file was 610 circumstances reported Feb. 23-29, 2020.
Flu grew to become a reportable illness in Erie County in 2003.
“We’re seeing lots of people take a look at constructive for flu,” mentioned Dr. Tim Pelkowski, a household doctor and program director of the Saint Vincent Household Drugs Residency Program. “It isn’t any extra virulent than regular, although it’s early within the season.”
Flu season sometimes peaks between January and March, although earlier seasons have began as early as October and as late as February. Circumstances are additionally surging as COVID-19 and respiratory syntical virus continues to unfold in northwestern Pennsylvania.
One attainable cause for the spike in reported flu circumstances is that doctor places of work and hospitals are testing extra folks than ever, as a result of presence of all three respiratory diseases.
“We’re definitely testing extra folks due to COVID, and I am certain that is a part of the rise,” Pelkowski mentioned. “However that’s nonetheless lots of flu on the market.”
A lot of the sufferers are youngsters, as 69% of the county’s 1,618 circumstances this season are folks 18 or youthful. Solely 4% are 65 or older, in accordance with county well being division information.
Older individuals are extra prone to get a flu vaccine, and extra prone to put on face masks and take different precautions when out in public, mentioned Dr. Ivan Loker, a physician with UPMC Hamot’s Harborcreek Household Physicians.
“Older of us are definitely extra prone to get the vaccine and put on a masks,” Loker mentioned. “Getting a 35-year-old to get a flu shot will be an uphill battle, to say the least.”
Hospital admissions for flu had been comparatively low thus far this season, with simply 19 sufferers as of Nov. 26, in accordance with the county well being division. However that seems to have modified previously week.
“We’re listening to of extra hospitalizations with flu in latest days,” Erin Mrenak, county well being division director, mentioned earlier this week. “It is fairly extreme for some folks.”
These often most in danger for extreme flu signs embody younger youngsters, older folks and people with persistent diseases, akin to bronchial asthma and diabetes.
One in every of Loker’s sufferers not too long ago examined constructive for each COVID-19 and flu, the primary time he may recall such a prognosis.
“The affected person felt actually run down, actually exhausted,” Loker mentioned. “Fortunately, it was a youthful, usually wholesome particular person, so I beneficial supportive remedies. I am glad it wasn’t certainly one of my older sufferers.”
Here’s a take a look at the latest weekly variety of flu circumstances in Erie County:
- Nov. 20-26 — 647
- Nov. 13-19 — 389
- Nov. 6-12 — 257
- Oct. 30-Nov. 5 — 160
- Oct. 23-29 — 87
Supply: Erie County Division of Well being