CLIFTON — The flu season has begun its assault, and the Arizona Department of Health Services is already reporting higher numbers than the previous year.

AZDHS reported that influenza cases at this time are currently three times higher than they were in 2018. Of those 950 reported cases, more than half are infants, children and adolescents.

“The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get your flu vaccine now if you haven’t already,” Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said. “Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe illness and can lead to hospitalization or even death. With the holidays right around the corner and people attending gatherings with friends and family, getting a flu shot today can help stop the spread of the disease.”

While Greenlee County currently only has five reported cases, officials said the actual number is likely much higher, and the statistics show that the amount of people infected with the flu has seen a 40-percent increase among the 65 and older age category versus the five-year average.

This spike in numbers is consistent with the reports coming out of the Centers for Disease Control in its weekly influenza surveillance report.

“Nationally, ILI (influenza-like illness) activity has been at or above baseline for two weeks; however, the amount of influenza activity across the country varies, with the South and parts of the West seeing elevated activity while other parts of the country are still seeing low activity,” the CDC report stated. “The flu season is just getting started. It’s not too late to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.”

The AZDHS also suggests being proactive in preventative measures to avoid the spread of flu.

“Simple, everyday measures like washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home when sick can help prevent spreading influenza and other illnesses,” AZDHS stated.

To stay up to date on influenza conditions in Arizona visit azdhs.gov/flu.

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