SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — The weather says spring but a lot of people in the Puget Sound region are still dealing with the illness we associate with winter, the flu.
Snohomish County Health is reporting an uptick in the number of flu cases doctors are seeing there.
The numbers are pretty amazing.
By March 2, health officials reported 148 people had been hospitalized with the flu in Snohomish County. Just a week later, that number rose to nearly 200 people.
So yes, the flu is still making people here sick.
On this last full day of winter, Gene Cooper was playing with his grandson, looking like the picture of health. But just a month ago he was battling the flu. How did he get it?
"From my grandkids," said Cooper. "And they get it through school."
He says it started out as a pretty mild virus. "More like a cold, achy, then turned into a sinus infection," said Cooper. "So it was a whole gamut."
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He was sick, he said, for "five weeks."
Mukilteo pediatrician Dr. Lelach Rave says she is seeing more of her young patients getting sick, with hardly any warning.
"Very, very rapid," said Rave. "People will say 'My kid was fine yesterday. And in the middle of the night, suddenly they have this fever. They complained of a headache and this morning they're just laying there like a wet noodle.' It's probably the flu."
In just one week's time, the number of Snohomish County schools reporting students absent because of the flu more than doubled to 14. The number of long-term care facilities reporting residents with the flu climbed to seven. The number of deaths from the flu went up, too.
Moreover, the flu shot is just 47% effective this year, and this is considered a good year. And Dr. Rave concedes getting a flu vaccine is no guarantee that you won't get sick.
"However, it is the best thing that we've got," she said. "So when you're dealing with a really contagious germ and you potentially can get very, very sick, even potentially die, versus, you cut your chances in half. It's worth it.
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