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Bothell woman among three Snohomish County residents who have died from the flu

Snohomish Health District - Contributed art
Snohomish Health District
— image credit: Contributed art

A Bothell woman is among three Snohomish County residents who have died from the flu, according to the Snohomish County Health District.

The Bothell woman was in her 40s, while both the Everett and Edmonds women were in their 80s. All three died at local hospitals in late December.

All three had underlying medical conditions that contributed to complications.

“We may be facing the most severe flu season since 2009,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum. “I urge everyone over 6 months of age to get an annual flu shot. It’s still the best weapon we have to fight the flu strains that are circulating this year. Wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and cover your cough.”

The CDC estimates that up to 49,000 people could die from the flu this season.

The Snohomish County Health District said it is well supplied with flu vaccine in providers’ offices as well as community clinics, pharmacies and clinics. To find the closest place to obtain a flu shot, visit the Vaccine Finder website. http://flushot.healthmap.org/?address= The Health District stocks about 1,000 doses of adult vaccine and 300 doses of children’s vaccine. Officials said that more is available as needed.Flu shots are especially important for people at high risk for complications from the flu, including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and women who recently gave birth, and people with certain medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease and neurologic conditions.

"You need a fresh flu vaccine every year; last year’s vaccine won’t work on the current circulating strains," said Snohomish County Health District spokesperson Suzanne Pate, in a release.

Goldbaum noted that this year’s vaccines appear to be well matched for the two strains of influenza A and one strain of influenza B that are circulating this year. The three strains are H1N1A, H3N2A and B/Wisconsin. The dominant strain is H3N2, which can cause more serious illness. As of Jan. 2, a surveillance report from two area hospitals show 52 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms since Nov. 1 in Snohomish County.

"During the 2010-2011 influenza season, we received reports of 16 persons hospitalized with influenza; there was one death reported due to influenza," said Pate. "During the 2011-2012 season, 39 were hospitalized and there were two deaths. Thus, in Snohomish County this season to date compared with each of the past two entire seasons, more people have been hospitalized for or died from influenza."

The Washington State Department of Health reported three deaths in December in King and Pierce counties.

Lab-confirmed deaths are reportable although many flu-related deaths may go unreported because they are not lab-confirmed or tested for influenza.

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