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Flu is on the rise in N.J., reaching high levels in all 21 counties – NJ.com

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Flu is on the rise in N.J., reaching high levels in all 21 counties – NJ.com

NJ.com

By Spencer Kent | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com | Posted January 05, 2019 at 09:00 AM | Updated January 05, 2019 at 11:58 AM

It’s only early January, but the flu season is already in full force, according to state officials. The virus has officially hit widespread levels throughout the state, according to the latest weekly data (Dec. 29) from the N.J. Department of Health.

So what does this mean? It means no matter where you live in the state, the number of influenza cases are starting to ramp up, at an earlier point in the season than last year.  

So how concerned should you be? We’ll break it down for you:

While the state said it couldn’t provide a precise number of flu cases in the New Jersey so far this season, it is reporting high levels of flu activity in all regions of the state. At this time last year, the state was only seeing moderate levels of influenza

“We’re seeing an earlier increase to high activity in comparison to last year,” New Jersey epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan said.

Right now New Jersey is also seeing significant spikes in emergency room visits and admissions.

However, does this mean that we’re going to have repeat of last year’s nightmare season

Tan said it is still too early to know if the season will be as bad as it was last year. (Last year there were more than 25,000 cases and three flu-related pediatric death.)

How dangerous is this season’s flu?

Getty Images | Hemera

How dangerous is this season’s flu?

This is the key question. The flu isn’t just one nasty virus; there are several strains, and some are nastier than others (with one tending to dominate during a given season). Last year, we were hit with one of the nastiest — the H3N2 virus, which can mutate, outsmart vaccines and cause one hell of an illness if you catch it.

While there is some H3N2 floating around this season, it appears the dominant strain is the H1N1 virus — more commonly known as “swine flu.” But this strain is no picnic either, as seen during the 2009 flu season

“H1N1 is associated with less severe disease presentation, but it is too early to say how this season will fare,” Tan said.

How is N.J. faring compared to the rest of the country?

Right now we’re pretty level with how the rest of the country is faring this season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. is also seeing a spike in influenza in recent weeks, and primarily swine flu. Currently, there are 12 states seeing high levels of flu activity, including New Jersey. (New York City is also at high levels.)

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