Utah doctors see uptick in flu cases, expect even more in the coming weeks

Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 19:54:56-05

SALT LAKE CITY – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say reported cases of influenza are slowly rising across the country.

In Utah, 31 patients who visited Intermountain Health Care clinics and hospitals last week tested positive for influenza.

The numbers aren’t particularly high right now, but doctors say that could all change.

“We may have caught a little bit of a break with a mild November, but as we get into the depths of winter with colder air, inversions, we'll probably see these viruses that are smoldering really start to take off," said Dr. Per Gesteland, a pediatrician with Primary Children's Hospital.

Dr. Gesteland says they’re also seeing cases of RSV, which is a life threatening respiratory virus that affects children.

“We're at the very beginning of the RSV season, and likewise expect that activity to really pick up over the next few weeks," Gesteland said.

With these illnesses popping up, doctors are reminding people about the importance of getting the influenza vaccine. Young children, pregnant women, and the elderly are strongly encouraged to do so because they are at a greater risk of complications from the flu.

Doctors would like parents and caregivers to get the vaccine to develop a “cocoon of flu protection.”

This season, doctors recommend using only flu shots. So far, the vaccine is a good match for the circulating strains of the virus.

“That means it's a good year to get that flu vaccine because it might really do a good job," Gesteland said.

There are still plenty of flu vaccines available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and health clinics. Click here for more information or to find a location near you.