Valley health experts see spike in late-season flu cases

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Early spring is typically the time of year when cases of the flu begin to drop off. But Valley doctors say they've seen a bump in patients dealing with the flu as of late -- mainly junior high aged kids.

"Our numbers haven't really fallen much, and that's the scary part. In this last week or so we're seeing a big spike especially in middle schoolers in 11-14 year olds," said Dr. Casey Gray.

Health officials say there is always a seasonal variation when it comes to the flu but this year's late-season spike comes later than normal.

"I can't explain why this season is a little bit later, but there's always some variation from week to week but its pushing more into the warmer weather this year," Dr. Gray said.

While most people will recover from the flu within a few days, some develop complications which can turn deadly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the flu killed more than 80,000 Americans last year -- including a record 185 children

"This year's flu vaccine is a very good match for the strain we're currently seeing," Dr. Gray said.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot.

While the CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October, officials say getting a flu shot later can still be beneficial

"There's still time because of this late flu season to come in and get your flu vaccine and have protection against this longer lasting flu season this year," Dr. Gray said.

As long as the flu is circulating throughout the Valley health experts say there are steps you can take to avoid getting the flu or passing it onto others

"Whether you have flu symptoms or the common cold symptoms one of the best things to do is to make sure you're washing your hands well," said Dr. Gray. "Make sure you cover your cough, and if you have a fever we don't want you exposed to other people. The fever is the time you're most contagious."

It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to build up antibodies to protect against the flu virus.
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