Two Island County residents died from influenza this month, adding to the state’s growing tally of flu fatalities and outbreaks.
The two deaths are among 109 laboratory-confirmed flu fatalities reported statewide Friday by the Washington State Department of Health.
The residents were sent off island for hospitalization. One person was in their late 50s, the second in their late 60s, said Dr. Brad Thomas, Island County Health Officer.
One patient was already critically ill with multiple organ system failure and “died with the flu and not because of it,” Thomas said.
Tuesday morning, Thomas received word of a third flu-related death involving a person in their 90s with an underlying lung condition. That death has not yet been confirmed by the state lab.
WhidbeyHealth Medical Center is seeing more positive test results for influenza, Thomas said, “but testing alone may not reflect community illness levels.”
Unlike other counties, such as Snohomish and Pierce, Island County isn’t experiencing clinics packed with sneezing and sniffling people.
No local nursing homes or long term care facilities have reported flu activity, Thomas said. Statewide, 101 influenza-like illness outbreaks have been reported in long term care facilities.
Three deaths from the flu were reported in Island County for the 2016-2017 season, which ended Oct. 1.
Health officials point out it’s not easy to gauge the prevalence of flu, since only deaths are reported, not cases of possible flu.
They advise the usual precautionary measures: Get a flu shot, wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home from school or work if you experience flu’s major symptoms of fever, chills, body aches, chest discomfort and a cough.