SAFFORD — There are 14 confirmed cases of influenza currently in Graham County.
That’s according to Melissa Lunt, Public Health nurse supervisor for Graham County Department of Health Services.
“Flu is generally underreported, so we know there are many other cases out there, too,” Lunt told the Courier.
According to the season-to-date case counts by Arizona Department of Health Services, there were three confirmed cases in Graham County as of the week of Nov. 4.
“The state updates the numbers each week; they just haven’t done this week’s update yet,” Lunt said.
Of the three cases as of Nov. 4, one of the victims is between the ages of 5 and 18, another from 50 to 64 years old, and the third is 65 or older. All three cases are influenza Type A.
Arizona Department of Health Services is reporting greater numbers of flu cases statewide 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.”
Statistics show that the number 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.
Graham County Health Department offers flu shots to the public every Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost to adults is $10 and children are free.
To stay up to date on influenza conditions in Arizona visit azdhs.gov/flu.
David Bell contributed to this report.