This year's "flu season” has claimed a higher than average number of victims this winter, but some local doctors are finding the high volume of cases are already starting to drop.
Thomas Campbell, Assistant Chairman of Emergency Medicine for West Penn Allegheny Health System, said this year got started a little bit earlier than in the past several seasons and it was worse than normal, but he isn’t exactly sure why. He said while it will linger through the winter, he is optimistic an end to the spike is in sight.
“Right now over the past week we’ve seen the cases level off, and really in the past two or three days, the cases have started to decrease a bit,” said Campbell.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health continues to categorize the flu as "widespread" in the state.
As far as the severity of the cases of the flu this year, Campbell said it isn’t much different from other years.
“The majority of people who we see with the flu that require admission to the hospital are usually people who have other medical conditions: respiratory or lung ailments, heart/cardiac ailments, diabetes.”
The Dept. of Health reports 5 deaths related to influenza in Allegheny County since October 1st. Statewide there have been 40 deaths.
When it comes to preventing the flu, Campbell says getting the influenza vaccine is a good idea.
“We found this year that the vaccine is about 65-70 percent effective,” he said.
According to Campbell, they usually see a marked drop in influenza cases once the weather changes.
“More people are outside in the fresh air and we get to pass on diseases a lot less frequently; but you can get flu well into the spring and even summer. I think it is just a matter of the amount of influenza cases we see. Hopefully we’re going to see a continued drop in the number of cases for the rest of the winter.”