With the falling leaves and temperatures comes the rise of sniffles, colds and the flu with about a dozen cases already reported to the Franklin County Health Department.
Franklin County Public health Supervisor Tony Buel says the flu season begins in September and generally runs until April.
Last season, a record breaking 1,672 cases were reported in Franklin County, but Buel believes the real number could be three times higher since many people who had the flu may not have gone to a doctor’s office.
“Last year’s numbers were the highest reported on record (for Franklin County),” Buel said. “It is too early to know for sure what this season is going to look like but, hopefully it’s not that bad.”
As of Thursday, the health department had already administered 425 flu shots at their headquarters in Union.
This year the seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that the experts indicate will be most common.
“It is partially based on what we have seen the previous season,” Buel said. “One of the flu vaccines is a trivalent vaccine and the other is a quadrivalent vaccine protecting against four flu viruses.”
He added the vaccines protect you from H3N2/H1N1 (influenza A) and either 1 or 2 influenza B viruses.
“Those two A viruses are the ones that we saw a lot of last season,” Buel said. “Most people are tested through rapid testing which doesn’t give us the actual virus they have but narrows it down to Influenza A or B.
Buel added it is important to remember that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends, everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.
The 1,672 flu cases last year were on par with other parts of the state, but shattered the existing county record set in 2014-15.
That year, 1,260 cases were reported, which were more than double any of the two years before or after.
During the 2010-11 season, there were 623 flu cases; 2012-13, 708; 2013-14, 700; and 2015-16, 174.
One thing unique about the 2016-17 flu season was the two different strains that affected residents.
Early in the season influenza Type A was more prevalent, but toward the end of March it died out and Type B was the dominant strain.
Buel said many people may have been infected by both strains.
According to the health department, the peak time for reported cases was mid-February to mid-March when 200 cases were reported each week.
The group most affected by the bug this year was school-aged children ages 5 to 14 with about one-third of the total cases.
The second highest group to be infected were adults ages 25 to 49 with 347 cases or 20 percent.
Older teens and younger adults ages 15-24 made up 12 percent of the cases with 202, and seniors 65 and older made up 11 percent with 186 cases.
There were 158 cases in the 50 to 64 age range, making up just over 9 percent of the totals.
Younger children were also hit hard by the bug with 13 percent of the cases being reported in the children 4 and under age group with 218 cases.