Flu season deaths not out of the ordinary, say Harbor health officials

The flu has been a factor in at least two deaths on Grays Harbor this season, but that is not unusual for this time of year, according to Karolyn Holden, the public health manager for Grays Harbor County Public Health and Social Services.

While the cases have involved “fairly young adults,” she said they were more at risk because of other health conditions.

The exact number of people who die and who have the flu virus as a variable will not be known until after flu season, but even then, said Holden, it is difficult to determine. Unlike some infections, such as tuberculosis, it is not required by law for it to be reported with the health agency because it is a “very common condition.”

Thus far, there have been 19 confirmed flu related deaths in the state, and there were 54 in the previous season, according to the state Department of Health.

Holden said there still seems to be an overblown fear of the potency of the H1N1 virus, now a dominant strain of the virus.

“Five years ago it was regarded as a big deal,” said Holden of the 2009 “swine flu” pandemic.

She said when the virus was first introduced on a large scale, “low-herd immunity” made more people susceptible to the virus, but that the epidemic curve was blunted. “Now that it has been circulating it’s sort of like any other flu virus.”

Holden reminds that flu shots are still available and that staying home when sick and washing one’s hands can help keep the virus from spreading.

Sam Luvisi: 360-537-3935 or sluvisi@thedailyworld.com and @DwSluvisi on Twitter.


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