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Clark County Flu Deaths Triple Last Year's Numbers

h1n1.jpg

NIAID/Flickr

Close up of the H1N1 flu virus.

Health officials in Las Vegas are reporting a jump in the number of flu cases, deaths and hospitalizations this year compared with last year.

The Southern Nevada Health District reported Monday that 48 people have died of flu this season, and that of the 1,291 cases reported so far, 940 people were hospitalized.

Those numbers were more than double the figures reported in the same week last April, with 13 people dead, 598 cases reported and 416 people hospitalized.

The health district says the local numbers reflect a national trend, with one strain of flu peaking this year in early February and a second strain more common in March.

The district says that 42 of the 48 deaths reported this year in Clark County have been people over age 50. 

The big question is why. Dr. Michael Johnson with the Southern Nevada Health District told KNPR's State of Nevada that the strain of flu that peaked in February was particularly resistant to this year's vaccine.

He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention works very hard every year to predict which flu strain will cause the most trouble, but they're not always perfect in their predictions and sometimes, like this year, the influenza virus is more resistant.

Despite the fact that the vaccine didn't work as well, Johnson and other health professionals encourage people to get vaccinated.

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“Given that the flu season here in Southern Nevada runs through April and even early May, we always encourage people to get vaccinated if they haven’t already,” he said.

Johnson also said that while the vaccine may not work as well as scientists hoped it will still help lessen symptoms.

There is some good news about flu season. The season is winding down.

“We’re almost out of the woods,” Johnson said.

Guests

Dr. Michael Johnson, director of Community Health, Southern Nevada Health District 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
Activity levels are based on the percent of outpatient visits in a state due to influenza-like illness (ILI) and are compared with the average percent of ILI visits that occur during weeks with little or no influenza virus circulation.
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