NJ flu cases spiked 35% last week — When will it end?
Flu activity remains high in every corner of the state, as more than 3,500 additional cases are confirmed throughout New Jersey in just the past week.
Meanwhile, a certain strain of the virus is just picking up speed and will likely infect residents for the next several weeks.
Based on samples from schools, nursing homes, hospitals and other areas, figures released Wednesday by the state Department of Health point to at least 14,065 positive flu tests since early October. About 7,000 positive tests were counted last year.
"Not everybody gets tested, so this only gives us a snapshot," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan.
Just a week ago, the number of confirmed cases was in the area of 10,400.
At 1,382, Bergen County came in with the greatest amount of confirmed cases, based on samples, followed by Monmouth, Camden, Ocean and Hudson counties.
The state data show a significant spike in the percentage of emergency room visits and admissions due to influenza-like illness, compared to past years.
Tan said hospitalizations and more severe illnesses are typically seen during flu seasons — like this one — in which H3N2 is the predominant strain.
The flu has claimed the lives of two young children in New Jersey in 2018.
Tan said influenza type B is "picking up in activity" right now in New Jersey and will cause issues through the end of flu season. In 2017, overall flu activity in New Jersey was considered "high" through the beginning of April.
"It's definitely not too late to get a flu vaccine," Tan advised.
Even if a vaccine is not a perfect match for the strains circulating through the community, she said, it can decrease the severity of one's symptoms and complications associated with the flu.