PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The flu has been deadly this year. Five deaths in Allegheny County, and this could go up.

“There might be one more, we’re still investigating. That’s not extraordinarily high or low. We sometimes get more than that,” says Dr. Ronald Voorhees of the Allegheny County Health Department. “One that we know of had not been vaccinated, but don’t know about the rest.”

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Allegheny County has five, Armstrong and Beaver Counties have one each and Westmoreland County has four. Between these four counties there are more than 2000 people sick.

The predominant strain is an influenza type A — H3N2.

“We’ve had more cases overall this year, and we are seeing more people being hospitalized. It does seem to be a stronger season. H3N2 tends to do that,” Dr. Voorhees explains.

Statewide, there are 40 deaths and 36 of these are in people older than 65. No children have died.
In Allegheny County, all of the deaths were in people older than 65, the oldest being 98.

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Influenza can cause inflammation in the airways and lungs. This can set you up for a bacterial pneumonia on top of the flu, which is a viral infection.

Often death certificates will indicate influenza and pneumonia, since the two go hand in hand.

Looking on the bright side, hospital surveillance systems seem to indicate the worst may be behind us.

“The proportion of people going to emergency rooms that are there for flu-like symptoms is dropping,” says Dr. Voorhees.

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Dr. Maria Simbra