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Utah doctors report spike in flu cases

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-08 20:00:22-05

SALT LAKE CITY – The weather may be warming up, but doctors in Utah are seeing a significant uptick in the number of flu cases.

“It’s a little bit late this year, but it’s arrived in the last month,” said Dr. Samuel Brown, assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Intermountain Medical Center.

The flu is spreading quickly.

“It’s distributed widespread throughout the state,” said Gregg Reed, influenza epidemiologist with Utah Department of health.

The flu is also putting a lot of people in the hospital.

“As of the end of February, we have seen 439 confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations,” Reed said.

Reed said a spike is common this time of year so people shouldn’t let their guard down.

“The activity levels are increasing -- perhaps even at the peak level this week,” he said.

The most common strain this year is H1N1, the same one that caused a pandemic in 2009.

This season’s vaccine has been effective in guarding against H1N1.

Doctors stress prevention.

“In flu season, it probably does pay to have a little bit of obsessive compulsive disorder with washing your hands a lot,” Brown said.

Those who end up with a mild case of flu that doesn’t require a visit to the hospital, doctors encourage people to stay away from others so as not to spread it.

“Think about other people in your life too. If you have flu, don’t go to work, don’t go to church, don’t go sneezing on people. Relax, take seven days off. It’ll be OK,” Brown said.

Doctors say the best defense against the flu is the flu vaccine. Flu season lasts until May so it’s not too late to get the flu shot.