Flu kills 1,031 Floridians in five weeks

5:48 PM, Feb 1, 2013   |    comments
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Tallahassee, Florida - The flu has killed more than 1,000 Floridians since Christmas as one of the worst flu seasons in a decade bears down on the nation.

Nearly 250 people died in just one week in mid-January as a result of flu or pneumonia, according to the latest report from the Florida Department of Health. Most of the deaths are among people 75 years old and older.

The report also shows influenza has killed five children since October. Pasco and Miami-Dade counties reported the latest two child deaths.

Millions of flu doses are still available right now, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. And while it's late in the flu season, Dr. Brandon Brantley says you should still consider getting a flu shot to protect yourself and your family.

"It's better safe than sorry. At any point in time you can get the flu shot. It's good that you do it for herd immunity and what that means is you're helping to immunize your entire home, keeping your home safe, especially for the little ones that you have."

Antiviral treatments are recommended for people with chronic illnesses, children under 5, pregnant women and people over 65. Antivirals can help you recover more quickly, especially if you get the medicine within 48 hours of feeling symptoms.

There was a shortage of the antiviral medicine Tamiflu in its liquid form for children, but Dr. Brantley says more shipments have eased the shortage.

"Recently we have been in contact with the manufacturers and the wholesale distributors of Tamiflu and there are no short supplies, nor are there any shortages in the chain of distribution."

The Department of Health report shows 1,031 Floridians died from flu or pneumonia in the past five weeks. A spokesman says that's not an unusual number of deaths for the flu season in Florida.

Dave Heller