DHSS says flu season could be arriving to Alaska early, flu number already up

Nov 25, 2014

Department of Health and Social Services says flu cases in Alaska have been on the rise in the last month. 

The state of Alaska has seen some strange patterns in flu cases in the past year.  October began the Department of Health and Social Services 2014/2015 year—and it started with very high flu numbers already.  KDLG’s Thea Card reports.

DHSS is reporting that since mid-October cases of flu in Alaska rose from 345 to 405 as of November 20th. 

Nurse epidemiologist with the state of Alaska Donna Fearey says flu seasons are not predictable and Alaska flu seasons tend to hit early than those in the lower 48 anyway.

“That is why we always recommend that folks get influenza vaccine as soon as it’s available in their community.”

Fearey says the state keeps track of positive tests that doctors take.

“We know that not everybody that goes to a health care provider gets tested and we know that not everyone with flu like symptoms goes to a health care provider. But of all the testing that’s getting done those results are tallied in our database and displayed on our webpage, update them weekly.”

The majority of the positive tests came from those in larger urban areas but there have been cases reported in rural Alaska. With the holiday season approaching, DHSS is warning to take precautions when traveling by coughing or sneezing into your elbow as opposed to your hands, washing hands often and if you work or live with someone with the flu avoid touching objects immediately after them. 

Fearey says even though this particular season is early, it’s nothing shocking.

“Everything that we’re seeing so far are the seasonal strings are not unusual. We’re seeing an H3 predominately, and time will tell how the season progresses.”

She recommends everyone who still has not received the flu vaccine to go to their health care provider soon. 

Credit Alaska Department of Health and Social Services