An early start to flu season: Health officials believe numbers will go up for the virus

Mobile County

MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Right after the tragic news that a 4-year-old in Mobile may have died from the flu, an important message from the health department.

The CDC estimates that so far this season there have been 19 million flu illnesses, 180,000 hospitalizations and 10,000 deaths from flu. Although it’s February, the start of flu season, health officials believe those numbers to go up.

“This year in Mobile particularly the influenza season started early and it was somewhat different than most years. Where the influenza B virus was circulating more in the early part of the flu season than most years,” said Dr. Rendi Murphree, Epidemiologists and Director of Disease, Surveillance and Environmental Services with Mobile County Health Department.

An alarming concern not only for Mobile but the entire state.

Dr. Rendi Murphree said they thought because the season started early they may see a decline, but that has not been the case.

“Around 6 or 7 percent of influenza of all healthcare visits are related to influenza-like illness. That’s about twice as what we saw last week and it’s twice the threshold for Alabama,” said Dr. Murphree.

Dr. Murphree said they will probably continue to see elevated influenzas for many more weeks.

As a Mobile County Sherrif Deputy, Corporal Tim Anderson, fighting for his life while currently suffering from the flu. And now a four-year-old losing her life from flu complications.

Dr. Murphree said it is best to stay ahead of the virus as much as possible.

“If you begin antivirals early, they can really help sort of mitigate and lessen the illness and maybe prevent complications. We do know that the antivirals that are currently available are effective almost 100% of the viruses that are circulating,” said Dr. Murphree.

Getting vaccinated is one measure you can use to protect yourself from the flu this season.

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