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Flu season in Arizona continues, downgraded

PHOENIX — It has been a typical flu season in Arizona.

Dr. Cara Christ, Deputy Director for Public Health Services and Agency Chief Medical Officer for the Arizona Department of Health Services, said there have been thousands of flu cases this year alone.

“We have had over 11,000 flu cases for this season in Arizona, including three influenza pediatric deaths,” Christ said.

Although there was some concern about a strain circulating that wasn’t the best match for the vaccine, Christ said looking back the season has not been severe. In Arizona, the flu period has now been downgraded from regional to local activity.

So far this season, there have been three pediatric deaths reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pediatric deaths are defined as flu-associated deaths that occur in people younger than 18-years-old.

Dr. Christ warns these are cases reported and may not include other deaths possibly linked to the flu. Adult deaths are not tracked the way pediatric deaths are.

A new vaccine is coming out in the fall, but Christ has a message for those who still have not been vaccinated: do not wait. “You never know. Five years ago around this time, that’s when H1N1 hit,” she said. “It’s never too late to get vaccinated.”

For those traveling internationally or going to another area of higher incidence of the flu, Dr. Christ recommended getting the flu shot.

“If you have flu-like symptoms, stay home if you’re sick,” Christ said.

Other preventative measures include hand-washing and sneezing into the sleeve of a shirt.

For more information about the flu in Arizona, visit http://www.azdhs.gov/flu/index.htm.