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Posted on: January 7, 2020

Two Flu-Related Deaths, Additional Hepatitis A Cases in Snohomish County

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – The Snohomish Health District received its first reports of flu-related deaths for the 2019-20 season. At the same time, District staff are also investigating increasing numbers of hepatitis A cases in the county. 

Flu season taking its toll

A Lake Stevens man in his late 80s died Sunday, Jan. 5. A woman in her early 30s from rural north Snohomish County died Wednesday, Jan. 1. Both had multiple underlying medical conditions.

As of December 28, this flu season had seen 28 hospitalizations and 12 schools that reported greater than 10 percent absenteeism due to influenza-like illness. During the 2018-19 flu season, there were 26 confirmed flu-related deaths in Snohomish County and 362 people were hospitalized.

There are several important reminders during flu season to avoid catching or spreading the virus. 

  1. Get your flu shot if you haven’t already. Check with your medical provider or local pharmacy.
  2. Wash hands thoroughly with warm, running water and soap. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces, as well.
  3. Stay home if you are sick, and keep children home if they are sick. Wait until fever is gone for a full 24 hours without fever-reducing medicine like Tylenol before returning to work or school.
  4. Cover coughs and sneezes. Droplets from coughing or sneezing spread the flu virus.

More information about the flu, including weekly reports, is available online at www.snohd.org/flu.

Hepatitis A Cases Increasing

Since first reporting three cases in mid-December, five additional cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed. A snapshot of the eight cases includes the following:

  • 7 male, 1 female
  • Mean age 47, with the youngest being in their early 30s and oldest in their early 60s
  • Onset dates range from Nov. 29 through Jan. 4
  • All cases reported illicit drug use
  • 7 of the cases report living homeless
  • Individuals are from the Arlington, Everett, Marysville and Tulalip areas 

Anyone with symptoms consistent with hepatitis A should seek medical attention promptly. Symptoms usually appear two to seven weeks after infection and can include:

  • yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • dark urine and/or pale stools
  • loss of appetite
  • fever, diarrhea
  • fatigue
  • vomiting
  • joint pain
  • abdominal pain

The best prevention is getting vaccinated with two doses of the hepatitis A vaccine. It is also important to practice good hand hygiene – including thoroughly washing hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. People in high-risk groups should also avoid sharing food, drinks, drug paraphernalia, and other personal items. 

The Health District is continuing to work to increase coverage with hepatitis A vaccine through with local healthcare providers. Staff are also providing information and sanitation guidelines to emergency departments, jails, law enforcement and first responders, shelters, the syringe exchange and other groups that are frequently in contact with people living homeless. Additional information about the outbreak, including ongoing updates, can be found online at www.snohd.org/hepatitis

The Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. To read more about the District and for important health information, visit www.snohd.org.

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