SEATTLE - The Snohomish Health District is reporting three people have died from flu in Snohomish County.
The dead include a Bothell woman in her 40s, an Everett woman in her 80s and an Edmonds woman in her 80s. All three died in late December in Snohomish hospitals and all had underlying medical conditions.
Earlier reports predicted this could be a bad flu season, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the data now confirms it. In the last week of December 2012, flu was widespread in 41 states.
State health officials believe the six influenza deaths reported across the state so far are likely just a fraction of the total, because only laboratory-confirmed flu deaths are reportable. All six reported flu deaths this season are in Western Washington.
Health Department spokesman Donn Moyer said there are likely more deaths where flu played a role but the person was not tested for influenza.
In late December, state health officials reported three other laboratory-confirmed deaths: a Pierce County boy under 12 years old, a King County man in his 80s and a King County woman in her 70s.
The Snohomish County Health Department says during the 2010-2011 influenza season, they received reports of 16 people hospitalized with influenza and there was one death. During the 2011-2012 season, 39 were hospitalized and there were two deaths. So in Snohomish County this season, to date, compared with each of the past two entire seasons, more people have been hospitalized for or died from influenza.
We may be facing the most severe flu season since 2009, said Dr. Gary Goldbaum. I urge everyone over 6 months of age to get an annual flu shot. It s still the best weapon we have to fight the flu strains that are circulating this year. Wash your hands often, stay home if you are sick, and cover your cough.
People at high risk of complications from the flu include young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and women who recently gave birth, and people with certain medical conditions like asthma or diabetes.