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Fewer seniors get flu

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Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 2:45 pm

Senior citizens in Arizona have not been affected as much as younger people this flu season, statistics show.

According to state figures, a third of the patients have been ages 19 to 49 (33 percent). The next largest group has been ages 5 to 18 (24 percent), followed by the very young, newborn to 4 years old (22 percent). More than three-quarters of cases have been influenza A, which includes the H1N1 strain. H3 is the most predominant subtype of lab-confirmed influenza this year.

The number of cases is still far below that seen last year during the H1N1 pandemic, Sunenshine said.

The county believes there’s also a decrease in the number of people vaccinated this year.

On Friday, a teenager died from complications with influenza, becoming the first pediatric death of the season in Maricopa County, according to the Department of Public Health.

Earlier in the month, a child in Cochise County died, becoming the first pediatric death in the state.

During the week ending Jan. 15, there was a small spike in the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases in the state, with 422 cases. Since the season started in late fall, there have been 1,971 cases.

That figure represents just a small number of influenza cases since most people don’t go to see a doctor or require hospitalization. Influenza is a respiratory infection that may include symptoms such as cough, fever, body aches and fatigue.

“We’re definitely seeing an uptick in the number of flu cases. This is a pretty typical increase we see in January each year,” said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, a public health physician for the county.

Sunenshine said it’s not to late to get vaccinated against the flu. Arizona sees a spike in flu cases through late February, she said.

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