Two people died from flu-related complications in Lehigh County in the past week, as the number of flu cases statewide declined, the state Department of Health reported Tuesday.
No flu deaths were reported in Northampton County.
Also, Lehigh Valley Hospital spokesman Brian Downs said Tuesday that an infant who died at the hospital earlier this month did not have the flu, as earlier believed. Initial indicators had pointed to the flu, Downs said, but test results were "negative for flu."
Statewide, there were 35 flu-related deaths in the past week, bringing to 75 the total number of flu-related deaths this season, from Oct. 2 through Jan. 19. Confirmed flu cases now number 23,079.
However, the number of flu-related cases, as well as the number of hospital emergency visits, declined from the previous week, according to the state health department. In all of Pennsylvania, 4,903 flu cases were reported, down from 5,069 the previous week.
The state health department put the number of confirmed flu cases in the Lehigh Valley at 2,676, as of Jan. 19:
- 1,651 cases in Lehigh County
- 1,025 cases in Northampton County
Lab-confirmed flu cases represent only a fraction of those with the flu, state health officials say, since most people with the flu -- including those who seek health care -- are diagnosed without lab testing.
Most of the reported deaths were among those 65 and older. No pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported to the state. (Lehigh Valley Health Network reported earlier this month that an infant had died of likely flu complications. A hospital spokesman had told The Morning Call last week it was still awaiting confirmation.)
Since flu activity could continue into spring, it is not too late to get a flu shot. To find a place near you to get a flu shot, type your zip code into the Flu Finder site.
Influenza—more commonly known as "the flu"—is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses infecting the nose, throat and lungs. It spreads via infected people coughing, sneezing or talking, though people can also get infected by touching something with the flu virus on it before touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
Symptoms of the flu include muscle or body aches, headache, cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever or chills, and vomiting and diarrhea (the latter two are more common in kids). The flu can also worsen chronic medical conditions or cause death.