PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Medical Epidemiologist Kristen Mertz from the Allegheny County Health Department says officials are putting out the warning now in hopes that those who haven’t already gotten their flu shot this season will get one and soon.
“Some of the strains have drifted a little so it’s not a perfect match, but we think that the shot even if it’s not a perfect match will reduce the severity of the disease,” Mertz said.
Friday the Allegheny County Health Department announced the death of a 78-year-old man who died last week from the flu.
Thursday the Health Department said a 55-year-old man died from the flu three weeks ago.
Health officials are now testing to see if the man who died a week ago had the H3N2 strain which is particularly deadly, especially in the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.
Mertz says it was that same H3N2 strain that killed 25 people in Allegheny County in 2012.
“Usually people get fever, headache, muscle ache sometimes sore throat congestion — and sometimes people feel like they can’t get out of bed,” she said.
If you have symptoms, Mertz says to stay home from work or school to help stop the spread. People who are more at risk should call their doctor right away.
“Anti-virals are especially useful if you start them early in the course of the illness,” Mertz said. “So we’re encouraging people especially those with underlying conditions and elderly to contact their provider if they do become ill.”
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