| Health |

Arizona Leads Country in Flu Cases; State Health Officials Don't Know Why

Arizona continues to lead the country in reports of flu-like illnesses, and health officials say they’re not sure why.

“It’s hard to say why Arizona is topping the charts this flu season,” Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, stated on the department’s website.

She said the flu causes many people to get sick in Arizona every year. But because the flu is very unpredictable, it is hard to know when flu activity will be the highest, how many cases of flu will be reported each flu season, how severe the flu season will be, and what strains will be most common.

The Arizona Department of Health Services usually sees the highest number of flu cases toward the end of January or February. But this year, cases are peaking later than usual, making Arizona the state with the 

highest flu activity in the nation. 

“In our hardest-hit weeks of the season, we usually see about 1,500 cases of flu reported,"  Christ said. “Two weeks ago, about 1,800 cases were reported in Arizona.”

Sickweather.com, which tracks the spread of illnesses across the country by scouring information from people’s posts on social media, reports that the flu, as well as allergies and the common cold, are prevalent in Phoenix.

Even though the number of cases reported this week is down from last week, the rate of flu-like illnesses in Phoenix still is higher than in most cities across the country, Sickweather founder Graham Dodge said. 

He added that people can visit Sickweather’s website or download the app to see an animated five-day map of all the flu, allergies, and common-cold cases that have been reported in their area.

The Arizona Department of Health Services expects the flu to stick around for a few more months. Christ said there’s still time for people to get this season’s flu vaccine.

“If you’re not protected yet, now’s the time to go get your flu shot,” she said. “It’s better to be protected late than not protected at all."

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