20 deaths in Washoe County attributed to flu

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) UPDATE 2/15/18: The Washoe Health District is now reporting 20 deaths attributed to the flu during the 2017-2018 winter flu season, with 4,352 cases of influenza reported as of February 14, 2018.

ORIGINAL STORY 1/29/18: It's been a bad flu season--both nationwide and in Washoe County. Surveillance numbers show 15 people have died so far from the disease in Washoe County alone.

"All of the individuals who have passed away from the flu were at risk, or a higher risk, I should say, of severe flu or flu-related complications. Either because of their age or some underlying medical conditions. 14 of those 15 individuals have been age 65 or older," says Kerry Chalkley with the Washoe County Health District.

A total of 3570 people have tested positive to the disease in Washoe County.

That is just the tip of the iceberg, as those patients went to physicians and facilities who report their test results to the health district. Not all do, but such numbers help personnel determine what's going on in the community as a whole.

Those same numbers show that activity has slowed. However, this year's flu season shows activity plunging down the chart. But it's not time to let your guard down yet.

"That's a good thing. That's the way we would like it to go. However, we cannot predict that there will not be a second peak later in the season," says Chalkley

Chalkley points to another chart which shows flu activity over the past four years. The 2014-15 flu season has two peaks in activity. The same could happen this year, which means it's no time to sit back and relax.

You can continue to get the flu shot if you haven't already. Frequent hand-washing, covering your mouth with your elbow when you cough, and staying home when you are sick are some of the best defenses against influenza.