Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Three killed in Philly by flu as cases increase, official says

Philadelphia has seen three influenza-related deaths since the start of the flu season in October, according to the city Department of Public Health.

There have been 66 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu in the city, though city Health spokesman Jeff Moran cautioned the statistic isn't an exact indicator since the "vast majority" of flu cases aren't necessarily tested by a lab. Philadelphia, in the week ending Dec. 28, saw 26 confirmed flu cases and 10 flu-associated hospitalizations, according to the Health Department's most recent surveillance report.

The report said flu activity in the city "increased significantly" from weeks prior. Still, it noted flu cases confirmed by laboratories and reported by emergency departments remain below the city's three-year seasonal mean. Only the number of influenza-like illnesses reported by pediatric ambulatory clinics has reached average historical levels.

Still, the flu season is ramping up locally, as well as nationwide. Flu activity is considered to be "widespread" in Pennsylvania, meaning there's recent lab evidence of influenza in at least half of the regions across the state. 

There have been 2,180 flu outbreaks statewide, according to the report. Nearly half of those cases — 1,021 — were reported during the week ending Dec. 28 alone. There were six flu-related deaths in Pennsylvania as of Jan. 4, according to the state Department of Health. 

“Flu activity has been picking up in the state, but we still have not peaked, which means we still have plenty of activity ahead of us,” Secretary of Health Michael Wolf said last week in a statement encouraging residents to arm themselves with flu shots.

The flu season nationwide runs from Oct. 2 through Sept. 30. It typically peaks sometime between January and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Widespread flu activity has recently been reported in 25 U.S. states.

Alex Wigglesworth For Philly.com
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