Confirmed cases of the flu are on the rise across every region of Pennsylvania, according to the state Department of Health.
The flu is now classified as a widespread problem by the department, with nearly 1,000 cases confirmed in the Midstate alone. The highest concentrations are in the easternmost counties.
In total, some 6,435 cases have been reported in 66 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Only Forest County had no reported confirmed cases as of this date.
Lebanon County has 134 confirmed cases while Lancaster County has 172.
“Young children under the age of one or two years old, older adults over the age of 65 are at the highest risk,” said physician assistant, Brett Meador, who works at AllBetterCare Urgent Care. “Generally [the flu] peaks in the colder months around December, January, February.”
Meador said Wednesday that influenza strain A has been more prevalent this season. Symptoms are the same across strains; fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
What is often not the same is how the illness is treated year to year.
“There is some changes within the virus and how it responds to the vaccinations which makes it so difficult to calibrate,” Meador said.
Prevention is the best weapon against contracting the flu, experts say. The best method to prevent getting sick – in addition to washing your hands regularly and covering a cough – is getting the flu vaccine.
“You and your family can go to your doctor, or a clinic or a pharmacy, or even a pharmacy in a grocery store to get a flu shot – and that’s the best way to protect yourself,” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said.
The department reported that there have been eight flu-related deaths so far this season.
You can get the flu shot for free through most insurance plans.