Food. Festivities. Flu. The holiday season is just around the corner, and the flu bug is biting again. The state’s first influenza cases were confirmed Tuesday by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
One case involves a man in his 60s, and the other involves an unrelated infant. Both are from Maricopa County.
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses. Symptoms vary, and complications such as dehydration, pneumonia and congestive heart failure can make the flu life-threatening.
“Influenza is particularly dangerous for the elderly and for infants and children,” said Dr. Art Mollen of the Mollen Immunization Clinic. Mollen said that dehydration and pneumonia are the most serious complications that can result from the flu virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, the flu can affect between 5 percent and 20 percent of the population per year and has an average annual rate of about 36,000 deaths in the United States.
“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the young, old or those with weaker immune systems,” said Jeanene Fowler of the state Department of Public Health.
Maricopa County had the state’s highest reported rate of flu cases in the 2006-07 season, according to the health services department, with 1,065 of the 1,663 cases reported statewide.
“The flu vaccine offers about 75 percent to 85 percent protection against three strains of flu this year,” Mollen said.
He said it is important to get annual flu shots because strains can change each year.
For a listing of locations where residents can receive adult and pediatric flu vaccines, visit www.fluaz.org or call (602) 263-8856.
Mollen Clinic offers 3,500 immunization clinics in the Valley.
The clinics offer flu vaccinations as well as pneumonia vaccinations that offer protection against 23 types of bacterial pneumonia.
Rotating clinics can be found at Fry’s, CVS and Food City stores, said Johnathan Roehm of the Mollen clinics.
The clinics are open in different locations on different days of the week. Clinic locations can be found at www.mollen-clinic.com.