Dr. Devin Minior of Banner Urgent Care talks about the flu and symptoms, prevention and tips on what to do if you contract it.
Tom Tingle/

The number of local influenza cases in Arizona spiked upward last week, but the numbers are not considered unusual, health officials said.

Across the state, 250 influenza cases have been reported so far this flu season, which began Oct. 1, the Arizona Department of Health Services said.

Of those, 82 were reported last week. Overall, 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties had reported a flu case as of Nov. 4, DHS said.

The agency noted that the numbers do not reflect all flu instances in Arizona since many people do not go to a doctor or health facility with the flu.

Dr. LeeAnne Denny of Banner Health said the increased state cases could be a precursor to a spike in coming weeks. Since we are now a month into the flu season, it would not be uncommon to see more people getting sick this time of year, she said.

“Flu season is different every year, but around now is when we typically start to see it pick up,” Denny said.

A DHS report showed that more than 23,000 flu cases were verified in Arizona in 2015-16, almost twice the number of reports from both the previous and the following seasons.

Cases tend to reach their peak in the months shortly after Jan. 1, DHS statistics show.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its website that influenza affects everyone differently, but it can sometimes lead to hospitalization and even death, so flu vaccines are recommended for anyone over 6 months old.

Denny said the flu can be dangerous for anyone, but there are some populations, such as people with asthma, pregnant women, children or anyone over 65,  who may be more susceptible to complications from the influenza virus and should definitely consider getting vaccinated.

Both the body’s immune system and the influenza virus change over time, so the CDC recommends that everyone get a flu shot every year just to be safe.

Influenza vaccines are often offered as either an injection or a nasal spray, but the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends only considering the injections. They said the nasal spray should not be used.

Many people think nausea, vomiting and stomach illness are be-all-tell-all symptoms of influenza, but Denny said those are more commonly seen in children. She said that in adults, symptoms commonly overlap with those of the common cold, such as chills, fever, runny nose, stuffy nose, headaches and severe body aches.

If anyone suspects they are showing symptoms of influenza, don’t go into the doctor’s office — Denny said that just puts others at risk of getting sick.

“The ideal situation would be you call your doctor and they could diagnose you over the phone,” Denny said. “Then they can be started on treatment with an antiviral medication.”

Health officials say it’s not too late to get a flu shot, which are offered at clinics and many retail pharmacies, among other locations.


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