Number of flu cases spiking in Washington, health experts say

SHORELINE, Wash. --  Dr. Yaun-Po Tu has seen hundreds of flu patients over the last three weeks at The Everett Clinic.

“Last week at the Everett Clinic we had 244 positive flu tests. The week before that we had nearly 280 positive flu tests,” says Tu.

Flu season “intensity” can vary from year to year, he says, adding that he received an email from the state Health Department on Tuesday stating we are now at epidemic levels.

“Typical flu seasons have increased influenza activity for 12 to 16 weeks. We are at Week 3 where we have seen increased number of influenza cases,” says Tu.

Tu says the flu can really cause some serious problems for people with underlying conditions, like diabetes or heart failure.

So far, nine lab-confirmed influenza deaths have been reported in Washington for the 2016-2017 season.

And while a flu shot certainly doesn’t provide 100 percent protection, Tu insists everyone needs to be vaccinated -- people of all ages, even health care providers.

If you do come down with the flu, Tu says you have a 48-hour window to get on antivirals.  “The fevers and chills usually last 4 days or less and then the cough and runny nose can last up to 2 weeks and longer with nasal congestion,” says Tu.

Another way to protect yourself is wash your hands thoroughly and often!