Utah flu season off to a slow start

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah health leaders say so far flu cases in Utah have been sporadic, but it’s a matter of time before they spike.

The most recent report from the Utah Department of Health shows 123 people statewide have been hospitalized for the flu since October, and no one has died from the virus so far this season.

“This flu season is kinda mimicking last season,” said Gregg Reed, an Influenza Surveillance Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.

This season there has not been a big increase of children missing school due to the flu.

“Although seasonal influenza contributes to substantial illness, luckily this year we haven’t seen the high numbers yet,” Reed said.

Flu cases may be a little low right now, but things could change quickly.

“Although flu is unpredictable, we still do anticipate to have a peak of the season," Reed said.

At Primary Children’s Hospital, Dr. Per Gesteland says they are starting to see a slight increase of children seeking treatment for flu-related illnesses.

“I think we’re at the beginning of a steady march to what we call our respiratory viral season," Dr. Gesteland said.

As we get further into the holiday season and more people are spending time with family, the flu season could really take off.

“Influenza is usually an illness that is not very subtle. Usually it hits quickly,” Dr. Gesteland said.

The most common strain this year is H3N2. Doctors say this year’s flu vaccine effectiveness is only 10%.

“It still makes sense to get vaccinated because a 1 out of a 10 chance protecting yourself is better than no chance of protecting yourself from influenza," Dr. Gesteland said.

Aside from vaccination, there are other ways to protect yourself from the flu.

“Wash your hands. Wear a mask if needed to prevent the spread of flu. Talk to your doctor about anti-virals if needed,” Reed said.

For more on the Utah Influenza report, click here.

For more information about influenza, click here.