Flu declared widespread in Pa.; death count doubles

The latest report shows flu taking the steep climb that often follows holiday gatherings and the beginning of the new year.

  • David Wenner, PennLive

(Harrisburg) — For the first time this flu season, flu is hitting people in virtually all parts of the state, according to an update by the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Wednesday.

While there is no sign this flu season will be anywhere near as bad as 2017-18, the state received reports of four more deaths, doubling the number it had received as of a week earlier.

Four of the deaths involved people 65 or older and three involved people 50 or older. None involved anyone 18 or younger.

The latest report covers the week ending Dec. 29, and shows flu taking the steep climb that often follows holiday gatherings and the beginning of the new year.

Pennsylvania’s flu season officially began Oct. 1, 2018 and continues until May 19, 2019.

Last flu season was an especially severe one all over the United States, with an unusually high number of hospitalizations and deaths attributed to the flu, including 256 deaths in Pennsylvania.

It was blamed mostly on the fact that last year’s flu vaccine proved a poor match to the prevalent flu strain, which had mutated.

So far, this year’s vaccine looks like a good match, according to early analysis from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, two Harrisburg region health systems told PennLive they had yet to see any abundance of flu cases or people needing to be hospitalized because of the flu.

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