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Flu cases are increasing

Nearly 20 people in Michigan have now died from complications associated with the flu. Health officials say five people have died in Oakland and Washtenaw Counties. There have been nine recent deaths in Kent County and at least four people have died in Kalamazoo County of influenza-associated illnesses. None of the deaths were children. The Michigan Department of Community Health says influenza A (H3N2) is the predominant circulating virus in Michigan and nationally. And flu seasons where H3N2 predominates are typically associated with higher morbidity and mortality, especially in the very young and the elderly. Nationally, more than two-thirds of H3N2 viruses have drifted from the vaccine strain. Because of this, the vaccine effectiveness may be reduced but the state’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Matthew Davis says a flu vaccine that provides even partial protection remains the most important step to prevent the flu and its complications. However, health officials say as of early last month only about 20-percent of children under four have gotten flu shots. That compares with 32-percent at the same time in 2013. Additionally, the number of flu cases continues to rise and that has prompted some scattered shortages of the medicine Tamiflu.  (MRN)

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