Chesco Coroner: Flu claims at least 11 lives this season

It appears that this season’s strain of influenza — the flu — is hitting Chester County harder than last year, with local health officials reporting a spike in deaths from the illness.

The Chester County Coroner’s Office has received reports to date of 11 deaths associated with influenza during the 2017-2018 reporting period, according to a statement issued Tuesday. By comparison, five deaths due to influenza were reported during the 2016-2017 flu season.

Influenza was the primary cause of death in 6 of the 11 cases and a contributory factor in 5 other cases. Influenza type A was identified in 3 cases; no typing was available for the other 8 cases.

The actual number, Dr. Christina VandePol, Chester County Coroner, said, may well be higher.

“Any influenza death is required to be reported to our office, but often we learn of a case only during our review of cremation permits, so the actual number of such deaths is probably higher than 11,” VandePol said. “Fortunately, it appears that influenza deaths and illness are finally starting to decrease after an unusually active season this winter.”

Influenza A(H3N2),has been the most prevalent flu virus in the United States this year.

Although the current vaccine is only about 25% effective against that particular strain, vaccination can still prevent thousands of cases of influenza, according to CDC.

All but one of the 11 deaths associated with influenza in Chester County occurred in persons over 65 years of age, a population at higher risk of flu-related complications. No deaths due to influenza were reported in Chester County in two other high-risk groups, children under 5 and pregnant women.

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