Thursday, June 13, 2024

Flu, COVID combo this winter could be a tough test for health officials

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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD Information 13) – The flu season is off to a rip-roaring begin in Arizona this yr, up by 56% over this time final yr and up 275% in a typical yr in line with state statistics.

As of this week, there have been 133 lab circumstances of influenza. Final yr, at the moment, there have been 22. 81 of these circumstances had been final week alone.

It doesn’t essentially imply this will probably be an exceptionally unhealthy yr as a result of the variety of circumstances can velocity up or decelerate through the season. However, in an effort to put together for what would possibly occur, the county will look elsewhere for steering, a spot like Australia.

“Their circumstances got here up a pair months early, as well as they noticed circumstances three to 5 instances greater than they might usually see,” stated Matt Christenberry, an epidemiologist within the Pima County Well being Division. “That’s very regarding.”

It doesn’t imply Tucson will mirror the land down underneath, nevertheless it’s shut sufficient that Pima County can use it to organize for what could also be coming. Australia’s flu season is simply ending so the county can use its historical past to find out if the flu vaccine works on the strains the county will probably be going through this yr. Having the ability to predict that, will give it a head begin.

Its regarding this yr as a result of a brand new omicron variant is making its approach throughout nation and can quickly land in Arizona, BQ1 and its subvariant BQ1.1.

“Which might be what we name new variants of curiosity and variants of concern,” he stated. “And we will monitor these two omicron variants which were inflicting circumstances in New York and different locations within the US.”

However with an early flu season and a brand new variant, this winter could possibly be tough for well being officers.

“We actually need all Arizonans, six months and older, to obtain the annual flu shot,” stated Carla Berg, a Deputy Director on the Arizona Division of Well being. “We’re seeing a slight enhance and an elevated case depend in comparison with this time in earlier years.”

Even with a plea from state well being officers to get the jab this yr, solely about half will truly get the flu shot. That would complicate issues if the flu season and the COVID winter spike additionally proves to be tough.

“Getting your vaccine at a time we’re not seeing a variety of exercise, as a result of we do know that it takes about two weeks in your physique to mount a response to the vaccine and we wish to ensure that persons are protected as they are often,” Christenberry stated.

A number of elements of the nation, together with the Deep South West to Texas have gotten an early begin on the flu season which implies it might quickly impression Tucson.

The flus kills an estimated 50,000 folks within the US yearly.

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