The flu is here, and it’s serious. Don’t take chances.

Tuesday , January 09, 2018 - 4:30 AM

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

It’s no longer a matter of when the flu hits Utah. Now it’s a matter of how many people end up in the hospital.

Or worse.

  • RELATED: “Health officials say the flu has become widespread in Utah”

Influenza activity reached critical mass in Utah during the final week of 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What happens next is, at least in part, up to you.

You can take steps to protect yourself, or you can risk catching and spreading a dangerous virus.

What does it mean when influenza activity becomes widespread in a state? In Utah, it means hospital admissions — nearly 430 in the final three months of 2017, the Utah Health Department reported in its influenza report for the week ending Dec. 30.

More than a third of those flu-related hospital admissions — 147 — occurred between Dec. 24 and 30, state figures show. That number includes 14 people in Weber and Morgan counties.

Altogether, the Weber-Morgan Health District ranks fifth in the state for influenza hospitalizations with 33, behind Salt Lake County (184), Southwest Utah (72), Utah County (49) and Davis County (38).

Influenza preys on the young, the old and the chronically ill. So far this season, it’s disproportionately sending older Utahns to the hospital; people 65 and older make up 60 percent of admitted flu patients through Dec. 30, the state reported.

And it’s killing people, as it always does. The Salt Lake Tribune reported five flu-related deaths so far in Salt Lake County, along with two in Wayne County.

Health officials say it’s not too late to get a flu shot. The CDC also recommends standard prevention measures — frequently washing your hands, covering your sneezes and coughs, and avoiding close contact with someone who’s sick, among other things.

The flu is here, and it’s serious. Don’t take chances.

Protect yourself.

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