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First flu death of the season highlights almost 6,000 cases in Connecticut

Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.
Just the sniffles? Could be the flu.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health confirmed the first flu death of the year. In November, a New London County man in his 50s died from complications with the virus.

In a press release, Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani warned residents of how this flu season is already one of the earliest and most severe in recent years.

“This is a tragic reminder that the 2022-23 flu season is already an active one,” Juthani said. “As we approach the holidays, I strongly recommend that persons 6 months of age and older get a flu shot.”

Juthani urged state residents to get their flu shots and COVID-19 boosters if they have not already. She expects both the flu and COVID to worsen once winter officially begins.

There have been close to 6,000 flu cases and 102 hospitalizations so far. The state health department said the exact number of flu cases may be higher due to the lack of reporting.

“This is the first season we’ve had with all these viruses competing with each other,” Juthani added. “My guess is that we will still see a COVID peak, maybe more in January and February.”

The highest levels of the flu cases traditionally occur between December and March. A viral respiratory illness, known as RSV, is also prevalent this season. It’s the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under the age of one.

State health officials recommend residents maintain proper respiratory virus prevention practices, regardless of their vaccination status. These include hand washing, remaining home when sick, disinfecting surfaces, and wearing a mask if you have any respiratory symptoms.

Residents can receive flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines or boosters at their local healthcare provider or pharmacy.

Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.