The flu tends to hit hardest in the first three months of the new year, and Oregon is seeing that trend play out this week.
There were 11 reported outbreaks around the state in the past week, according to the Oregon Health Authority. That’s a nearly 400% increase from the week before.
It follows an Oregon child’s death from the flu in mid-December.
People around the state are getting the flu, and hospitalizations have steadily increased since flu season began, with a greater percentage of emergency room visits due to the flu and its symptoms.
The Oregon Health Authority now considers the state to be near the top of the scale for flu infections and hospitalizations. Oregon and Washington are the only states with that level of flu activity on the West Coast.
Health officials say that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, because it is supposed to protect against the strains that have caused hospitalizations and deaths so far this season.
This year’s flu season is already worse than three years ago, and trend lines indicate it could be on track with the last two years, which were considered notably bad.
Last year’s flu season caused the most ER visits in the state in recent years but was largely overshadowed by the Northwest’s largest measles outbreak.
There have already been a few measles cases this fall and winter, but the likelihood of getting measles also increases in January and February. People who receive the measles vaccine are 97% protected from getting the virus.
During outbreaks, up to 20% of the population can be affected, health authorities say. Health experts say it’s always worth getting a flu shot.
Symptoms of the flu, which is caused by a virus, include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headache or fatigue. Here is information from the state about where to get a flu shot.
— Molly Harbarger