Hospitals see spike in flu cases compared to this time last year

Posted at 8:13 PM, Dec 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-24 22:13:29-05

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- Flu season arrived early this year, and the latest statistics are showing a spike in the number of cases when compared to this time last year.

The strain of the virus that is hitting hardest this year is influenza H3, which tends to pose the greatest risk to people aged 65 or older.

Another issue is that the H3 strain mutated after this year’s flu shot was created, which makes it less effective against the strain.

Salt Lake County Hospitals admitted 42 flu cases at this time last year, and this year that total has increased to 230. Four of those admitted have died, all of whom were older than 65.

Experts said a flu shot is still a person’s best defense.

“You really need to get the vaccine because you're covered against those other strains,” said Doctor Dagmar Vitek. “And maybe you have a little decreased coverage for H3, but you still get some.”

Health Department officials said, along with getting the vaccine, you should wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick rather than try to go to work or to holiday parties.