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Pierce County sees its first flu death of the season

We received notice of this season’s first flu death in Pierce County. Sadly, a woman in her 70s who had many underlying health conditions died from the flu in January.

Flu activity has been low in Pierce County since December.

Healthcare providers report flu deaths to the Health Department to help us monitor flu activity and severity.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counts a death as a flu death only if the person got a flu test. The flu likely contributes to the deaths of many people who did not get a flu test.

The 2017–2018 flu season was the most severe in many years. According to CDC as many as 61,000 people died from the flu in the United States. That season, Pierce County saw 31 reported flu deaths. This includes only deaths where people tested positive for flu and the physician or medical examiner listed flu as the cause of death on the death certificate.

The flu and COVID-19 are circulating right now.

The flu and COVID-19 share many symptoms, including fever, cough, sore throat and body aches. You can spot the difference between flu and COVID-19 in these ways:

  • People with COVID-19 often report losing their senses of taste and smell (less likely with Omicron, but still happens). This isn’t common with the flu.
  • Adults with COVID-19 more often report gastrointestinal upset than adults with the flu.
  • The flu tends to make a person very sick within the first day or two. With COVID-19, people are usually sick for many days before they develop severe illness.

If you have any of these symptoms, you should get tested for flu and COVID-19. That way you know the right way to take care of yourself and protect others.

The best way to prevent flu is getting a flu shot.

Everyone 6 months or older should get a flu shot every year. It can stop you from getting the flu. If you do get sick, your illness will be milder and shorter. And it protects you and those around you all season.

The flu can circulate through spring. If you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet, it’s not too late! Ask your healthcare provider, go to a local pharmacy or visit our flu page to find a location near you.

Keep up the healthy habits that stop the flu (and COVID-19, too).

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and call a healthcare provider.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.

Antiviral medicine is available for people at high risk.

Those at high risk for severe illness from the flu include:

  • Under 5 years old (especially those under 2 years old).
  • 65 years or older.
  • Have chronic health conditions.
  • Have a compromised immune system.
  • Pregnant or recently gave birth.
  • Children on long-term aspirin therapy.
  • American Indians/Alaska Natives.
  • Morbidly obese (body-mass index 40 or higher).
  • Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

If you are at high risk for severe illness from the flu, talk to your healthcare provider about antiviral medicine for flu treatment or prevention.

Stay healthy this season.

Get a flu shot, keep up those healthy habits and learn more on our flu page.