Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2018

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Flu season continues to rack up deaths in Clark County

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Ted S. Warren / AP

In this Jan. 12, 2018, file photo, Ana Martinez, a medical assistant at the Sea Mar Community Health Center, gives a patient a flu shot in Seattle.

With 22 casualties so far, the influenza season in Clark County has proven increasingly deadly, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.

That’s an increase of about 200 percent from the same time period during last year's flu season — October 2016 to the first week of February 2017 — when seven people died due to the illness, according to the health district.

Total cases and hospitalizations also have just about tripled this season. Almost 1,000 cases have been diagnosed with 735 patients being sent to the hospital, according to the health district. There may also be unreported cases.

One of those cases was Jenna Libidinsky, a 24-year-old Las Vegan who was killed by the flu, which she had about two weeks beginning shortly after the new year.

What started off as the flu turned into bronchitis then walking pneumonia. Her friend Gabrielle Hile says Libidinsky was healthy but had not gotten a flu shot.

Hile and others gathered to remember her Saturday night. They described her as someone who loved to go out to new places and eat sushi.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the flu season typically hits its peak from mid-November to March but can run as late as May.

The trend is occurring throughout the U.S., where officials have called it the most “intense” flu season in almost 10 years, or at least since the country was hit with the swine flu pandemic in 2009, and it’s “getting worse,” according to the New York Times.

On an average year, the flu, which is contagious, kills about 30,000 Americans and hospitalizes 200,000, the health district said. The groups most victimized is 65 and older, young children under age 2 and pregnant women.

Also affected are people with arthritis, asthma, cancer, pulmonary disease, diabetes, dialysis patients, emphysema, heart diseases/stroke, HIV or AIDS, high blood pressure and transplants, the health district said.

A fever, a cough, a sore throat, tiredness, headaches, congestion, stuffy nose, body aches are indications that someone may be infected, the health district said. Children are prone to vomit or have diarrhea.

The illness can increasingly worsen to pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions, according to the health district.

The virus is present in the air and can attach to surfaces, such as door knobs and faucets, and can spread to people by touching their eyes, mouth or nose, according to the health district.

It typically can take up to three days after being exposed to the virus to fall ill.

Tips to combat the flu, according to the health district:

• Stay home if you’re sick as others can be infected by you before your symptoms appear and up to five days after the symptoms are present.

• Get rest, and then medical attention if your condition does not improve after a few days.

• Wash linens frequently and keep surfaces clean.

• Do not share utensils, bottles, glasses or towels.

• Do not consume tobacco or alcohol but do constantly drink water and keep your hands clean with warm water and soap, or sanitizing solution.

• Skip work and school until at least a full day after the fever is gone without the use of medicine.

• Do go out to seek medical attention but wear a face mask.

• Avoid human contact, especially from those who are at high-risk of getting the illness, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

For more tips and information contact your doctor, or the health district at 702-759-1300 and 702-759-0850 for the immunization clinic. Visit here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.