PALMER — Flu season has already made itself welcome in the Mat-Su Valley for the winter this year, but not as welcome as you may have heard.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued statistics on the rapid increase in flu-like symptoms seen in and around the state, dispelling rumors that had circulated about flu-related fatalities. There have been no deaths related to the flu this year, despite such reports being circulated around the internet. A snapshot provided by DHSS provides a look at the spike in flu activity around Nov. 16, prior to a spike in the start of flu season in 2019.
“Flu season has arrived here. There has been an increase in patients in the hospitals,” Mat-Su Regional Medical Center Director of Marketing Alan Craft said.
Craft noted that like the spread of the flu itself, the misinformation briefly went viral, prompting the correcting response from DHSS with accurate information. According to graphs provided by DHSS, over 60 cases of the flu began presenting symptoms in Valley residents around Nov. 16. Despite a separate rumor that the spread of the flu virus had overwhelmed the staff at Mat-Su Regional, Craft clarified that MSRMC in no way is nearing capacity due to those experiencing flu like systems.
“Our emergency department is busy. It has been busy for the past several days. It is by no means overwhelmed,” Craft said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises Valley residents to get a flu shot every six months to stay current and prevent infection. The CDC also recommends diligent hand washing to prevent spread of germs, and urges those experiencing symptoms to stay home and not spread the flu to others.
Type B of the Influenza virus itself is much more prevalent among those presenting flu like symptoms by a wide margin. Flu shots can be obtained at MSRMC urgent care facilities throughout the Valley and more accurate information about the start of flu season can be found on the DHSS website.