A new strain of the flu strong enough to kill is sweeping through Madison and Bonneville counties this winter.
Although generally more of an inconvenience than a real health threat, this year the common virus should be taken more seriously, local pharmacist, Todd Hansen said.
“We’ve been seeing a lot more cases of the flu this year where the patient needs to be hospitalized,” Hansen said. “In fact, several people outside the usual danger age range of the flu have already died.”
The danger ages Hansen referred to are generally considered to include children under 3 years old or adults over 65 years old. This year’s flu virus, however, seems to hit equally hard no matter the age of the victim.
Cody Klinger, an 18-year-old Madison County resident, has been battling the flu since early December.
“Just as I think it’s about to go away, it starts again,” Klinger said. “I’ll feel better for a day or two, but I always go back downhill pretty fast.”
And he’s not the only one who’s been affected by the new resilience of the virus. Megan Hale, a junior at BYU-Idaho, and an employee of a local hospice nursing service, noticed the flu take a toll on both her clients and herself.
“My clients have been getting sick faster and staying sick longer,” Hale said. “I’ve even been having to fight off the symptoms as well. It’s just hard to stay healthy this year.”
Although there are differing opinions on why the virus seems to have mutated into a more powerful form this season, there is no doubt that the flu is stronger than ever and precautions should be taken to avoid contracting it.
Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has stated the relevance of the situation, and said people of all ages should get a flu shot this season.
“This is serious,” she said. “But we’re optimistic.”