It seems like flu, but Peninsula outbreak may be more like a bad cold

Is this a great flu outbreak or what?

“What” is probably the correct answer.

Although school absenteeism is up — as are workplace sick days — influenza may not be the culprit, JoAnne Dille, director of Clallam County Health and Human Services, says.

The illnesses could be caused by other respiratory viruses.

“Without testing, it is difficult to know,” she said.

“We really don’t know, especially locally.”

The good news is that this year’s outbreak probably peaked late in February or early this month, said Dr. Tom Locke, health officer for Clallam and Jefferson counties.

“It does appear we’re just over the peak as you look at hospital rates and emergency room rates,” Locke said.

“We expect it to be dropping from now on.”

But is it flu?

“The majority of people who have fevers and respiratory illnesses don’t have influenza,” Locke said.

Eight types of non-flu

It’s a viral jungle out there.

Eight major types of non-flu respiratory illness circulate during the season, plus “literally dozens of minor ones that can occur on a case-by-case basis,” Locke said.

And they all are mutating merrily away.

In addition, health authorities have seen a new fever-causing illness that they can’t yet identify.

So if you’re coughing and ache all over, what difference does it make?

Influenza can kill, Locke answered.

“Influenza gets the attention because it’s one of the deadliest of the pack,” he said, “especially for the very young or very old.

“It has the potential to mutate into a deadly pandemic.”

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