The flu is here and just in time to spread during Thanksgiving gatherings.
Influenza season is starting early, and it’s aggressive, according to Kaiser Permanente Fresno.
Since the start of October, Kaiser has tested 70 people for influenza, and and 10 had influenza A, while two had influenza B.
Kaiser has admitted five people to the hospital with influenza. One patient was critically ill with flu complications and was admitted to the critical care unit, said Kaiser spokeswoman Kerri Leedy.
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The flu is afflicting both young and old patients. Kaiser flu patients have ranged in age from 10 to 82.
Influenza is not yet widespread in Fresno County or in California. But there are local pockets: San Diego County has reported an elevated level of cases and two deaths.
At Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County, emergency department doctors have seen and treated only a couple of children with influenza. No child has been ill enough to be admitted, said spokeswoman Zara Arboleda.
Pediatricians at the hospital also have seen a few infants with respiratory syncytial virus. The virus, known as RSV, can have potentially life-threatening complications in babies and in children with pre-existing medical conditions.
Flu season can begin as early as October, but often in the Valley it’s not seen until Thanksgiving or later. The season typically peaks in November and December, but the virus can hang around until February or into spring.
Flu vaccine can take two weeks to give full protection, so there’s still time to get a flu shot before Thanksgiving.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that anyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot. Those most at risk from complications from the flu include young children, older adults and nursing home residents.
And every year, health officials also remind people that they too have a hand in stopping the spread of the flu by washing their hands often with soap and warm water. Also stay home when sick, cover a cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow. And keep hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.