The flu is continuing to spread rapidly in New Jersey, with 3,000 additional cases reported in the state in the past week, pushing the total to more than 10,000 for the season, according to the latest statistics from the New Jersey Department of Health.
One pediatric death has also occurred from a flu-related illness this season in New Jersey.
So how long can this go on? According to health officials, it’s unclear when the tide will turn. Influenza is a capricious brute, and health officials say it’s impossible to predict its future patterns. However, the state Department of Health says “it is likely there will be significant flu activity for many weeks to come.”
According to the latest figures, there have been about double the number of flu cases than during the same period last year. Additionally, the dominant flu strain going around — the H3N2 virus — is among the most severe strains of the flu, causing more serious illness, especially among children and people 65 years and older.
However, compared to past years, this season has still had less severe cases and deaths than during the 2012-2013 flu season, which resulted in 89 severe cases and seven deaths. So far this year there has been 32 severe cases and one death, according to the latest data.
Yes, it appears that many hospital emergency departments are continuing to be strained by a large influx of flu patients. Health systems throughout the state have been ramping up restrictions for visitors at its facilities — prohibiting children of a certain age and people with signs of the flu from visiting friends or family members admitted at their locations.
Dr. Gregory S. Sugalski, vice chair of clinical operations and medical director of Emergency Medical Services at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who also oversees the emergency department at University Hospital in Newark, said that there has been a tremendous surge in patients with flu-related illnesses in the past month.
It’s not too late to get flu shot, and yes it’s worth it, experts say. Despite the poor performance of this year’s vaccine against the dominant H3N2 virus, health officials agree that some protection is better than none at all, and they have continued to urge the public to get one. Even if you get the flu, health officials say by getting vaccinated, your symptoms will be less severe.