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Cover your cough and wash your hands: Officials consider flu widespread in Arizona

Woman receives flu shot. (AP Photo)

PHOENIX — The influenza virus continues to infiltrate workplaces and schools throughout Arizona and officials with the Arizona Department of Health Services are now calling the flu widespread statewide.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 3,710 total cases have been reported during the 2015-2016 season, about 1,500 of which were reported throughout the past week.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said cases have now been reported in all of Arizona’s 15 counties, with 51 percent of the state’s total cases reported in Maricopa County.

“We know that’s just the tip of the iceberg, because not everybody who is sick goes to see their doctor and gets tested or reported,” she said.

Arizona hit the widespread status later in the year compared to past seasons. Christ said Arizona is in its normal peak period right now, which usually lasts through February.

In order to prevent getting the illness, Christ said to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home from work if you are feeling sick. Flu symptoms are similar to the common cold, but the virus is more physically draining.

For those worried about getting a flu shot, Christ has some good news: it’s not too late.

“It’s never too late to go get your flu vaccine because we can see cases out until May, so we want to make sure everybody has the best protection available,” she said.

Maricopa County has reported 1,909 flu cases so far this season, with Pima County slightly behind at 939 cases. Yavapai and Pinal Counties take the third and fourth spots with 207 and 201 reported flu cases, respectively.

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