Flu cases rise in Western Pa., but ailment down sharply from last winter
The number of people diagnosed with the flu in several Western Pennsylvania counties has increased over the past week, and reports of those sickened in Allegheny County have more than doubled.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health reports that 159 people tested positive for the flu in Allegheny County from Sept. 29 through the week ending Saturday. A week prior, 72 people tested positive for the ailment through the same period.
Despite the recent increase, those numbers are down sharply from last winter's particularly bad flu season, when 726 people tested positive for the virus in Allegheny County during the same period.
Health officials said last winter's flu season started earlier and this year's vaccine is a better match.
“The strains we are seeing is what strains were provided in the vaccine,” said Holli Senior, spokeswoman with the Department of Health.
Health officials acknowledge that flu statistics aren't an accurate picture of how many people actually have the virus.
“There are many people who never go to their doctor, and there are physicians who don't do a test,” said Dr. Karen Hacker, head of the county health department. “There are a lot more people with the flu than what's been pinpointed.”
The state's numbers show that the reported cases in Allegheny County trail only Blair County's 189. Butler County is third with 121 cases, followed by Westmoreland County with 89.
Doctors and labs are required to report confirmed cases of the flu to the state.
Doctors emphasize that there is still time to get a flu shot. The season doesn't peak until the end of January.
“You lower your risk of losing work time and having to spend money to see a doctor (when you get a flu shot),” said Dr. John Danek, medical director of employee health at Jefferson Regional Medical Center. “People will use any excuse not to get one. They're counting on herd immunity — that it will crowd out the disease.”
Danek said the flu tends to spread in the winter.
“We tend to stay indoors in large crowds — at sporting events, theaters, malls. And because the air is drier, we have drier nasal mucus membranes, and it makes it easier for the disease to invade,” he said.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Army defends job cut notices to captains in Afghanistan
- Revised anti-nepotism policy lets Allegheny County judges keep family in jobs
- $24M water filter project at Aspinwall treatment plant nears kickoff
- Fitzgerald stacks legislative wins as Allegheny council members struggle
- Bucar grilled by City Council, likely to win approval as public safety chief
- United States proposes tougher rules for moving crude oil, ethanol by rail
- Transplant patients in limbo over coverage under UPMC-Highmark pact
- Newsmakers: Miriam Klein, Amy Kerr
- Motive remains unclear in slaying of Kennedy Township man
- Moon school closing fought
- Moon Area board reconfigures elementary buildings, votes again to close school and explore merging with Cornell