FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 5, 2022
Two more flu deaths in Snohomish County, hospital visits climb rapidly
Three adults in Snohomish County have died from influenza so far in the 2022-23 flu season
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Two more flu-related deaths have been reported in what has quickly become the worst flu season in three years.
An Everett man in his 40s and an Everett woman in her 70s died early last week.
A Lynnwood woman in her 20s also died in November, and a Bothell woman in her 70s died earlier this fall, before the official start of the 2022-23 season.
The Snohomish County Influenza Surveillance Report for the week ending November 26 shows hospitalizations rising sharply. The percentage of hospital visits in the county for influenza-like illnesses is roughly 10 times higher than it was during the same period in 2021 and 2020.
“This year’s flu season is very early even by pre-pandemic standards. The speed with which cases are increasing is on par with other severe flu seasons in the past,” said Dr. James Lewis, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District. “While it is not possible to predict how the rest of the flu season will go, it is very likely that cases will continue to increase over the coming weeks. This comes at a time when our healthcare system is incredibly strained, particularly the pediatric healthcare system. It is incredibly important for all of us to take appropriate precautions to prevent the spread of viruses at this time, including staying up to date with flu and COVID vaccines, wearing a mask when you are in crowded indoor areas, and staying home when you are sick.”
The last two years were unusually light flu seasons thanks to illness prevention measures such as masking, distancing, and quarantining while sick. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flu was a deadly disease in Snohomish County each year. In 2018-19, there were 26 flu-related deaths in the county. The two previous years were particularly bad, with 40 deaths in 2017-18 and 45 deaths in 2016-17.
The Snohomish Health District continues to urge precautions to reduce the spread of flu, COVID-19, RSV, and other illnesses that are currently circulating.
“In particular given the strain on our pediatric healthcare system and the high levels of transmission in our younger population, please consider wearing a mask while at school during this time of high transmission,” Dr. Lewis said. “Also, please avoid emergency or urgent care if you are able to safely care for yourself or your family members at home. There are resources to help you care for sick children at home and help you determine if seeking healthcare support is appropriate for your situation. These measures will not only protect yourselves and your loved ones but also your community and your healthcare system, so it is available for you when you or your loved ones need it.”
Health and safety reminders:
- Get your annual flu shot. People ages 6 months or older can get a flu shot, available at most pharmacies and clinics. Vaccination reduces the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalization, and death.
- Get your COVID-19 vaccinations and bivalent booster. COVID is a severe respiratory illness, as well, and we expect to see increases in COVID activity this winter.
- Strongly consider wearing a mask in crowded areas and shared public spaces. This includes on planes, trains, or buses if you are traveling this holiday season. Even if not required, masking is a good way to reduce the spread of multiple respiratory illnesses.
- Wash hands well with soap and running water, scrubbing for 20 seconds.
- Stay home from work, school, or other activities if you are feeling sick. For COVID-19, wait at least five days before returning to normal activities, and continue to mask around others for an additional five days. For other illnesses, wait until your fever has been gone at least one full day (24 hours) without use of medicine and any other symptoms are gone or getting better.
Flu information, including local influenza surveillance reports, is available at www.snohd.org/flu.
The Washington State Department of Health has additional flu information and resources at www.doh.wa.gov/flu, including information on when to stay home and when to seek emergency care.
Information on COVID-19 vaccination can be found at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine.
Seattle Children’s also prepared an informational packet on caring for children with bronchiolitis.