State tracking flu as season starts to ramp up

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The number of hospitalizations for influenza-associated illnesses is higher this flu season than it has been for the last four, state figures show.

The most recent Michigan Department of Health and Human Services report on flu-associated illnesses said 86 people were hospitalized between Oct. 1 and Dec. 14. The last time the number was that high at the same point in the season was 2014.

Between Dec. 8 and Dec. 14, 1.6% of visits to doctors were related to influenza-like symptoms, working out to about 158 patients. The rate was .4% more than the previous week.

Nationally, influenza activity is increasing and flu-like illnesses have been above or at the baseline of 2.4% for nearly four weeks. Nineteen influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported this flu season. None of them were in Michigan.

In a recent survey, MDHHS found 44% of adults have been vaccinated against influenza for the 2019-2020 flu season, but 37% have no plans to get vaccinated.

If you’re suffering from fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache or general fatigue, be sure to see a doctor. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

To help prevent the spread of the flu, Ascension Michigan hospitals have implemented some restrictions for visitors: Visitors must be at least 14 and free of fever, coughs, colds or stomach virus symptoms. The number of visitors will be limited to two at a time per patient and they will be required to wash their hands. Ascension Michigan hospitals include Borgess in Kalamazoo, Borgess-Lee in Dowagiac and Borgess-Pipp in Plainwell.

For more information on this year’s flu totals, you can check out the MDHHS’s weekly reports on its website.