Las Vegas Sun

September 17, 2014

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Health District: Flu season in full swing

Season started later, symptoms lasting longer, but it’s overall a mild season, health officials say

The flu season is starting later than usual, officials say, but symptoms are lingering longer, and the strain is resistant to the main anti-viral drug.

“We’re starting to see an increase in activity, but it’s still a mild season overall,” Brian Labus, Southern Nevada Health District senior epidemiologist, said.

University Medical Center Dr. Cory Russell noted the flu season typically starts hitting in early January and lasts for three to four months. So far, however, he said he has treated fewer than 10 cases.

In the cases he has seen, symptoms like coughing, sneezing and pains are persisting for about 10 days. Normally symptoms last for five to seven days, he said.

“You feel pretty bad for a couple weeks, which is why people should get flu shots unless they can afford to be off of work,” Russell said.

Another atypical feature of this year’s strain is its ability to withstand the main anti-viral drug, Labus said. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its findings on that phenomenon a few weeks ago.

“We’re using different combinations of drugs to treat it,” Labus said. “It’s part of the natural evolution of the virus. Different strains have different resistance to different anti-virals.”

However, he said, this year’s vaccine has proven to be an effective match in preventing the virus.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” he said. “If you do wind up getting sick, remember to cover your mouth, wash your hands and stay home.”

Dave Clark can be reached at 990-2677 or [email protected].

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