Pennsylvania Department of Health Confirms First Influenza Case; Physician General Says It's Not Too Late to Get Vaccinated

HARRISBURG, Penn. -- The state Department of Health laboratory has confirmed the first case of influenza in Pennsylvania for this year's flu season.

A resident of Lycoming County was diagnosed with influenza type B/Hong Kong. This year's influenza vaccine is designed to protect against this strain, as well as A/Moscow and A/New Caledonia stains.

"Flu season has arrived in Pennsylvania, and it traditionally continues through March," said Physician General Dr. Robert Muscalus. "If you haven't done it already, people in high-risk groups, or anyone who wants protection, should visit their doctor for vaccination. It's not too late."

Muscalus noted that people at high risk for influenza or its complications include:

-- People over the age of 50;

-- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that

house people of any age who have long-term illnesses;

-- Adults and children over 6 months of age who have chronic heart or

lung conditions, including asthma;

-- Adults and children over 6 months of age who need regular medical

care or had to be in a hospital because of metabolic diseases (like

diabetes), chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system

(including immune system problems caused by medicine or by infection

with human immunodeficiency virus [HIV/AIDS]);

-- Children and teenagers (age 6 months to 18 years) who are on long-

term aspirin therapy and therefore could develop Reye Syndrome after

the flu; and

-- Women who will be more than 3 months pregnant during the flu season.

Because young, otherwise healthy children are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalization, influenza vaccination of healthy children age 6 months to 23 months is encouraged when feasible.

Others who should be vaccinated are people who readily can transmit the disease to those at high risk, including:

-- Household members (including children) of people in high-risk groups;

or

-- Healthcare providers who have daily contact with people in high-risk

groups.

"People at high risk are advised to get the flu vaccine every year because different influenza virus strains circulate each season," Muscalus said. "The vaccine is tailored to match the strains expected to occur in the United States."

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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