Influenza is now "widespread" in Arizona, according to the latest report from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The report, released Wednesday, shows nearly 300 cases of the flu were confirmed during the week between Dec. 30, 2012, and Jan. 5. That brings the state total to 1,137 since the flu season began in late September.
But those numbers are provisional, according to the weekly report. The state said a number of suspected influenza cases from the first week of the year are still being confirmed and its estimated to be closer to 1,000.
Valley hospitals and urgent cares told the Tribune last week that the number of patients coming in for emergency care exploded after Christmas. Some came in with influenza, but a large number also came in with respiratory virus symptoms.
The state confirms there have been 125 pneumonia- and influenza associated deaths among adults this season. No influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported, There were 160 pneumonia- and influenza-related adult deaths during the entire 2011-2012 season.
Last season, the first case of the flu was not reported until mid-December 2011. This season, the first case was confirmed on Oct. 30, 2012.
Influenza cases in Arizona tend to peak during January and February, later than most of the country. Arizona health officials expect this to be a very active flu season. The state figures may be much lower than the actual number of people sick with the flu since many don't tend to visit a doctor.
The influenza vaccine this year is a good match for the type of cases being reported, officials said. Flu vaccines are recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months old.
A higher-dose influenza vaccine is available for the elderly.
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