Western Pennsylvania is seeing more flu cases than what’s usually seen at this point during the season, according to state Department of Health data.
“It's not uncommon to see a spike in cases after the Christmas holiday. I think this year ... in the weeks following Thanksgiving, we saw a significant rise in the number of cases,” said Dr. Marc Itskowitz, a primary care doctor for Allegheny Health Network. “We don't know what the total seasonal will look like, but we are off to a well above average start.”
Part of the reason that Allegheny County is reporting so many cases is possibly because the surveillance network here is more robust when compared to other parts of the state. However, surrounding Washington, Greene and especially Beaver counties are also reporting a higher than normal number of cases.
“So there does appear to be an increased flu concentrated here in western Pennsylvania,” said Itskowitz.
The state says so far six Pennsylvanians have died from flu-related illnesses. No one in Allegheny County has died, though 11 residents have been hospitalized.
Experts say the best way to prevent spread of the flu is to wash hands regularly and get vaccinated.