Flu is still widespread on the North Olympic Peninsula but the worst of the season is over, health officials said.
Public health officers in Clallam and Jefferson counties say influenza-related hospitalizations and laboratory-confirmed cases have been waning in recent weeks.
“We’re definitely past the peak, although we’re still seeing influenza cases,” said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
“We would expect the number would decline with each passing week from here on out.”
Four of the state’s 200 laboratory-confirmed flu deaths this season were Clallam County patients, according to state Department of Health statistics.
Jefferson County had no flu-related deaths as of Feb. 24, health officials said.
Last year’s flu season claimed 258 lives statewide, the highest death toll in recent years.
“Overall, it was not quite as severe a flu season as last year,” said Dr. Christopher Frank, Clallam County health officer.
“It’s started to tail off over the past couple of weeks.”
Most of those who have died from flu this year were 65 and older, state officials said. Most had underlying health conditions, Frank said.
Flu deaths are likely under-reported because many cases are not tested, officials said.
The predominate flu strain this year was the H3N2 influenza, which emerged as the Hong Kong flu pandemic in 1968.
“There were other parts of the country that were hit much harder than us,” Frank said.
“We actually dodged that a little bit.”
Health officials say the best way to stop the flu from spreading it to get an annual flu shot.
They also stress prevention measures such as covering coughs, washing hands and staying home when sick.
“It’s definitely not over,” Frank said.
“We’re still seeing active circulation in the community, but we expect it to tail off.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].