The record-setting 2016-2017 flu season that hit Franklin County last year may pale in comparison to what is already being recorded this flu season.
As of Friday, Franklin County flu cases are at 908 and rising fast.
Public Health Supervisor Tony Buel said there were 386 new cases reported in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
In the past week, flu cases reported to the Franklin County Health Department have reached more than half of all cases reported last year.
Buel says they can’t pinpoint a cause for the increase in cases, but they are spreading like wildfire.
“It’s definitely widespread activity,” Buel said. “We are seeing multiple strains of flu. Lots of influenza B also, not just influenza A.”
Buel explained there is no real concentration of the flu cases. Instead, it’s being seen throughout the whole county in large numbers.
Influenza A is still the dominant strain, making up 806 of the total cases. Thus far, 102 influenza B cases are reported.
School-age children between 5 and 14 are being hit hardest thus far, making up 20 percent of the overall cases with 185.
Adults ages 25 to 49 make up an additional 20 percent of the cases with 181 people in that age group reporting flu.
Adults 65 and over represent 18 percent with 174 cases reported.
Sixteen percent of the flu cases in the county are in the 50 to 64 age bracket with 146 reported and another 10 percent, or 95 cases, are in the young adult category of age 15 to 24.
Younger children ages 0 to 4 round out the remaining 14 percent of the flu totals with 127 cases reported since the beginning of the flu season last fall.
The county health department still recommends anyone who has not yet acquired a flu shot to do so as soon as possible to lessen their risk of catching the bug.
A record number of 1,664 flu cases were reported in Franklin County last flu season between September and April, but Buel says the real number could be even higher because most people who had it didn’t go to the doctor.
Buel added the vaccine this year has been designed to protect against the same four strains of influenza that hit the county so hard last season.
With some skepticism rising regarding the effectiveness of the flu shot this year, Buel said even if it doesn’t completely block the mutated flu strains, it will greatly reduce symptoms and recovery times.