Flu packs more of a punch this season in St. Johns

Feeling feverish, achy and weak?

 

It could be the flu.

Health care professionals are calling this an especially active flu season, and Northeast Florida is no exception.

According to the weekly influenza report issued by the Florida Department of Health, flu activity was above average and the number of cases increasing in St. Johns County for the week ending Dec. 30.

Mary Matthews, an infection preventionist at Flagler Hospital, confirmed this finding.

“We are starting to see an increase in patients presenting with the flu, compared to a couple of weeks ago. As to the strain of virus, we are looking at a fairly equal split of influenza types A and B,” said Matthews.

The CDC says the spread of flu is usually highest between December and February.

The virus is currently considered “widespread” across Florida as a whole, according to the state DOH. Nearby Duval and Flagler counties appear to be even harder hit than St. Johns, with both counties reporting outbreaks at multi-residence facilities such as nursing homes.

Lisa Palmorn, lead nurse with CareSpot Urgent Care in St. Augustine, said there has definitely been a spike in patients testing postive for influenza.

“We’re seeing more flu A, which is a worse strain, than flu B,” said Palmorn. “Some people coming in don’t think they have it because they’re asymptomatic and then they test for B.”

Palmorn said this year’s strains also seem to be more resistant to vaccines.

“It’s no guarantee,” Palmorn said of immunization.

Still, Matthews insisted that “the most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccination each year. We also know that regular handwashing is one of the ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick and prevent the spread of influenza.”

 

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