Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

March 18, 2014
The flu season is fading, but new bacterial infection is spreading

Despite the rumored intensity of this year’s flu season, it looks to have followed the same trends as the last several years.

Tooele County had 11 influenza-related hospitalizations and one confirmed fatality since this year’s flu season began last September, said Louise Ekenstam, an epidemiology nurse with the Tooele County Health Department. Statewide, the flu hospitalized roughly 700 patients this winter.

Those numbers are on par with last year’s figures, Ekenstam said. In fact, this year’s flu season mirrored trends from the last several years, with the viral activity picking up, peaking, and dropping off at roughly the same time of year.

Though Ekenstam said she had heard patients comment that this year’s flu virus seemed to result in more severe illness than in years past, no official report has confirmed that rumor.

The virus’s activity seems to be winding down at this point, but Ekenstam said it was still important that young children who are just reaching the age where they are eligible for vaccination should still get a flu shot. Sporadic flu activity can persist through May.

Additionally, Ekenstam stressed the importance of vaccination and cough and cold etiquette in light of another potentially fatal infection that has begun to spread throughout the community.

Recently, the health department has seen a number of patients with pertussis, a bacterial infection known commonly as whooping cough, Ekenstam said.

Pertussis is particularly dangerous to infants, especially those who are too young to be vaccinated. Young children should receive the pertussis vaccine as soon as they are able, and teens and adults should get booster shots to protect at-risk populations, Ekenstam said. 

Emma Penrod

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Emma Penrod is a staff writer for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin and covers Tooele City government, religion, health, the environment, ethnic issues and public infrastructure. A Tooele native, Penrod graduated from Tooele High School in 2010. She holds an associates degree from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. She worked for the newspaper as a high school intern starting in 2008. In 2010 she began working full-time in the newsroom until she left for college later that year. While at BYU, Penrod worked as a writer and editor for a small health magazine in Utah County. She interned with The Riverdale Press, a community newspaper in the Bronx, NY and with the Deseret News. She is also the author of two non-fiction books.

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