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Kenny Vigil
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Flu Season is Not Over in New Mexico

March 26, 2015 - Immunization - Awareness

Influenza B Circulating in the State

The New Mexico Department of Health reported today that influenza B continues to circulate in New Mexico. The vaccine is a reasonable match for the predominate influenza B strains that we are seeing in the state.

“Some people who get flu may develop severe illness and complications, including death, and we must still be on alert,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “People who develop influenza – particularly if they are at high risk for severe disease and complications, such as the elderly and children younger than 5 years of age – should seek medical care and antiviral medication as soon as possible.”

The predominant strain of flu this season has been an influenza A virus (H3N2), which has caused a large burden of serious disease in older people. Like older people, children suffer more during H3N2-predominant seasons. It is not unusual near the end of flu seasons to see an increase in influenza B virus illness and that is what has been seen in parts of the country recently, including in New Mexico.

There has been one flu-related pediatric death in New Mexico this season. A 1-year-old Dona Ana County child’s death was associated with influenza B. There have also been 27 adult influenza-related deaths and 127 pneumonia-related deaths among New Mexico residents reported since the start of this 2014-2015 flu season.

More people have been hospitalized in New Mexico this flu season than in many years. The rate of hospitalizations with lab-confirmed flu has been 40 per 100,000 compared to 29 per 100,000 during 2012-2013 season, when H3N2 was also the predominant strain. For children under the age of 5, the current hospitalization rate is almost twice as high, and for adults 65 years and older the hospitalization rate is more than three times as high as this season’s overall rate.

“While vaccination is the best protection against influenza, washing your hands frequently and staying home when you are sick can also reduce transmission of flu, and other viruses,” added Secretary Ward.

Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each flu season. It’s especially important that people in the following high risk groups get vaccinated and receive antiviral medications if they get the flu:

  • Pregnant women (any trimester) and post-partum women
  • People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease
  • People who don’t have a normal immune system
  • People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People who are morbidly obese
  • Health care personnel
  • People at high risk for serious flu complications, including children younger than 5 years and adults older than 65 years

Contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy to get vaccinated. You can also call the New Mexico Immunization Hotline at 1-800-232-4636 to find more information about getting vaccinated, or contact your local public health office.

Flu season peaked at the end of December nationally, and in New Mexico.

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact Kenny Vigil at 505-841-5871 (Office) or 505-470-2290 (Mobile) with your questions.

Versión en Español

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La Temporada de Influenza No Se Ha Terminado en Nuevo México