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Doctors See Uptick in Flu Cases in State College Area

by on January 04, 2014 10:00 AM

It's that time of year - flu season.

Doctors are seeing an uptick in flu cases throughout the State College area.

In December, 23 patients tested positive for influenza through the Mount Nittany Medical Center laboratory, including 14 confirmed cases last week, according to Erin Welsh, spokeswoman for Mount Nittany Health. Only two patients were age 60 or older.

"Presumably, we are seeing the same type A strain that is currently circulating throughout the rest of the commonwealth," says Welsh. "Typically, flu activity peaks in mid to late January in Pennsylvania, but similar to this year, an uptick in influenza cases was also seen over the holidays last year."

Welsh says flu symptoms may include a few or all of the following symptoms: fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea.

"If you believe you have the flu, contact your primary care physician. It's also important to avoid contact with others, so the flu doesn't spread," says Welsh.

Already, 10 states, including Pennsylvania, have reported widespread flu activity, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the week of Dec. 15 to Dec. 21, the number of people seeing a doctor for the flu increased and was above the national baseline for the fourth consecutive week, according to the CDC.

Experts say flu viruses spread mainly through coughing, sneezing or talking. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.

The CDC says you may be able to pass the flu to someone else before you know you are sick. "Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick," the CDC says. "Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time."

The CDC says the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine. The agency says everyone who is at least six-months old should get the vaccine, especially those who are more vulnerable to serious complications, such as pneumonia. That includes people with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease; pregnant women; children under 5; adults over 65 and those who provide care to people who are high-risk.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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