Nine other adults died of influenza-related illnesses in Pennsylvania last week.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health released its weekly report on the number of influenza cases confirmed in 67 counties until 23 February. When a positive laboratory test is reported to the state, it is recorded as a confirmed influenza case.
We are almost halfway through the flu and the flu has claimed the lives of 56 adults and one child. The vast majority of those who have died are 50 or older.
All areas of Pennsylvania reported an increase in influenza activity last week, but the southeastern and northwestern parts of the state were the hardest hit. So far, 46,145 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza have been reported in 67 counties. This represents 8,337 new cases in the last week.
The state continues to see widespread activity exceeding the epidemic threshold. Last month, the rate of flu throughout the state jumped from 194 cases per 100,000 population to 295 per 100,000 two weeks ago. Last week saw a slight decrease, to 268 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The influenza season officially starts in early October and ends in May, but the disease usually peaks in winter.
Northampton and Lehigh are among the most affected by the flu rate in Pennsylvania.
After weeks in Pennsylvania doing better than its New Jersey neighbor, the Keystone State has become one of the 30 states with the highest levels of influenza activity, according to the weekly flu report. This report is late by one week on reports from the Pa Department of Health.
When health officials say that the flu is widespread, it means that confirmed outbreaks or an increase in confirmed cases of influenza are found in at least half of the state's regions. This is not an indicator of gravity.
Mapping the flu
We analyzed available data from the Ministry of Health on confirmed influenza cases to determine which of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania had been the hardest hit this flu season.
The data cover the beginning of the influenza season from October until February 23rd.
Click or tap a country to view the total number of influenza cases and its influenza rate per 100,000 population.
It is estimated that 5-20% of Pennsylvanians – 600,000 to 2.4 million people – get the flu each year and 120 to 2,000 die from complications related to influenza.
Here are the 15 counties in Pennsylvania hardest hit:
The influenza rate in the state as a whole was 268 cases per 100,000 population.
- 15. Luzerne County Influenza rate: 558 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 1,780
- 14. Huntingdon County Influenza rate: 587 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 269
- 13. Lycoming County Influenza rate: 597 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 694
- 12. Lehigh County Influenza rate: 615 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 2,208
- 11. Northampton County Influenza rate: 701 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 2,106
- 10. Bradford County Influenza rate: 718 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total Cases: 444
- 9. McKean County Influenza rate: 735 cases per 100 000 inhabitants. Total Cases: 313
- 8. Wayne County Influenza rate: 809 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 415
- 7. Fulton County Influenza rate: 839 per 100,000 people. Total Cases: 123
- 6. Crawford County Influenza rate: 870 cases per 100 000 inhabitants. Total cases: 757
- 5. Clearfield County Influenza rate: 883 per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 717
- 4. Jefferson County Influenza rate: 949 per 100,000 inhabitants. Total Cases: 423
- 3. Potter County Influenza rate: 1,154 per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 199
- 2. Elk County Influenza rate: 1,167 per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 363
- 1. Cameron County Influenza rate: 1,664 per 100,000 inhabitants. Total cases: 80
Is it too late to get the flu shot?
It's never too late to get a flu shot, and if you have not, you should do it, according to the experts. It's fast too. You can get one at your local pharmacy and come in and out in minutes.
Many believe that the vaccine can catch the flu, but the CDC and all the experts will tell you that it's wrong. Some people may have a mild reaction, but it's not the flu.
Here are some debilitated myths about influenza vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Myth: The flu vaccine can give you the flu. (Some people think this because the flu vaccine can give you a minor reaction, in rare cases, some people may develop a life-threatening reaction, according to the CDC.)
- Myth: It is better to be vaccinated than the influenza vaccine. (No. It's certainly not better to get the flu if you can avoid it.)
- Myth: I do not need an influenza vaccine every year. (The influenza vaccine will eventually disappear, so you will need to get one each year.)