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PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center emergency entrance (November 2016). Photo: My Ferndale News

Experts: Flu season is in full swing

According to the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD), flu season typically occurs between December and March with the peak month varying by year.

WCHD Communicable Disease & Epidemiology Division reported the number of positive lab tests at Whatcom County labs between December 24, 2017 and January 6, 2018 were as follows.

71 – Influenza type A virus (16% of all tests)
39 – Influenza type B virus (9% of all tests)

As of January 6th, there have been 3 lab-confirmed influenza-related deaths in Whatcom County and 29 state-wide during the 2017-2018 season.

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School attendance is often a bellwether of illness outbreaks but schools were not in session during the last week of December and, when this story was written, attendance data had yet to be reported for the 1st week of January.

WCHD advises the single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. WCHD also advises,

  • Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
  • Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

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