Following an outbreak of flu-like illnesses at the University of Arizona, one of the county’s top medical officials says flu season has arrived early and county residents should act accordingly.
Dr. Carlos Perez-Velez, Pima County Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said he’s not saying there is an emergency or that it’s urgent, but flu season has arrived a month ahead of schedule. Those populations most at risk – including those older than 65 – should take normal precautions now.
“I would tell them that the season has started and they should get their flu vaccines as soon as possible,” he said.
The early declaration of flu season stems from a cluster of reports of influenza-like symptoms that started in a sorority on the University of Arizona campus in August. Over the course of several weeks there were nearly 100 cases of reported flu-like illnesses at the school, though eventually only 37 cases tested positive for influenza on rapid flu tests. However, a case of influenza is not officially confirmed until the state health department does its testing.
There were three confirmed cases of flu in Pima County since the Aug. 8, two of which had occurred between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9, according to a recent state health department report.
However, Perez-Velez said when there is a cluster of cases, such as what happened at the UA, its likely other people had influenza, but just haven’t been tested. The fact is flu season is here so people need to pay attention to that, he said.
There are two “starts” to the usual flu season, he said….
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