The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports influenza is now an epidemic, with varying amounts of activity in 36 states. Flu season normally peaks in January or February.
Twenty-two states and Puerto Rico are reporting moderate to high levels of flu activity, according to the CDC. Fifteen children in nine states – including Florida – have died. Escambia County Health Director Dr. John Lanza says seniors and children are the most vulnerable.
Usually starting in early October and lasting until May, influenza season peaks in January and February in the Panhandle. The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is encouraging residents to get vaccinated.
“The information that we most recently got from the Florida Department of Health indicates the “A” strain – the H3 specifically, probably H3N2 – is more prevalent,” said Dr. John Lanza, Escambia County’s Health Director. “There’s at least one “B” strain out there also.”
A respiratory virus that has sent more than 1,000 children to emergency rooms since mid-August has parents in Florida worried their child could be next, if the disease makes its way to the Sunshine State.
Out of that total – mostly in the Midwest -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 130 pediatric cases of Enterovirus D68 in 17 states, including Alabama.
Dr. John Lanza, Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, says no official cases have been confirmed in Florida, but that may change soon.
Summer returns this weekend, and brings with it the built-in threats of hot weather to older residents. The Council on Aging of West Florida is seeking donations to help clients stay cool.
Those donations can take the form of new fans and air conditioners for seniors’ homes. Council Vice President Jeff Nall is hoping this call will equal or better those from previous summers. Nall asks those wishing to provide such equipment to follow a few simple ground rules, such as not offering used fans and A/C units – new equipment only.
Normally the scourge of the very young and very old, complications from influenza are starting to attack those in between. For now, the main concern is over the H1N1 strain.
That particular strain has claimed two lives in Santa Rosa County: a 47-year-old man in Gulf Breeze and a 32-year-old woman in Pace. They normally would be exceptions to the rule but this year, H1N1 – also known as Swine Flu -- is showing up more in the young and healthy.