Blair, Centre see record flu season

Blair and Centre counties are having their worst flu seasons in at least 13 years, the latest figures from the state Department of Health shows.

The number of laboratory-confirmed flu cases for the season — considered a fraction of the total number of actual cases because many people don’t seek medical treatment — rose to 1,198 in Blair County last week, surpassing the 1,039 total for all of the 2016-17 flu season.

The flu season starts about Oct. 1 and normally runs through spring.

The number of new cases in Blair County continued its upward trajectory last week. The number of new cases for the week grew by 25 percent to 411 from 308 the previous week.

During the previous 12 seasons, not including the current one, Blair County only averaged 379 lab-confirmed cases for the entire season. State flu records available online only go back to the 2005-06 flu season.

Blair is an anomaly in this region, as surrounding counties reported only slight increases in the number of new weekly cases or in some instances actually saw the weekly total drop.

Centre County also has topped its 12-year record with 1,264 flu cases for the season, but the weekly number of new cases dropped by 48 percent last week, going from 380 for the week ending Feb. 3 to 196 for the week that ended Saturday.

Cambria and Clearfield counties saw smaller drops in the number of new flu cases last week. Cambria had 118 new cases last week, down from 138 the prior week.

Cambria County actually appears to have hit its peak for new cases for the week ending Jan. 27 with 263 new cases that week.

Cambria’s season total to date of 1,198 is still almost quadruple the 298 average flu cases for the previous 12 seasons.

Clearfield County’s new cases last week totaled 107 — down from the previous week’s 128, which was the high for the current season. Clearfield has had 606 flu cases this season, more than triple its 12-year average of 191 cases.

Bedford and Huntingdon counties saw small increases in the number of new cases for the week.

Bedford County had 61 cases for the week ending Feb. 3 and 66 for last week. For the season, Bedford County has reported 222 lab-confirmed flu cases, which is above its 12-year average of 161.

Huntingdon County had 135 new cases last week, up from 126 from the week ending Feb. 3.

For the season, Huntingdon has had 463 flu cases, or 200 more than the previous 12-year season average of 263.

Statewide, the number of new cases continued to rise for the latest week, but at a slightly slower pace.

For the week that ended Saturday, 13,835 new flu cases were reported, up from 12,299 for the previous week. For the season to date, 61,587 cases of flu have been confirmed, which is about 10,000 less than last season’s 71,272.

The 107 flu-related deaths this season also are fewer than last year’s 149 and the 12-year high of 221 during the 2014-15 season.