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Jan 23, 2014 7:33 PM by John Patrick

Arizona experiencing widespread flu activity

TUCSON - Influenza cases have seen a surge across Arizona this week.

Hospitals around the state have seen an increase in patient visits for the flu. In just the last week, Arizona has seen a spike by more than 50% with 824 lab confirmed cases.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 90% of the cases seen this year are the deadly H1N1 strain.

Arizona is now on the list of more than 40 states that have reported widespread activity.

Virginia Greene, a Tucson resident, is one of the thousands that have suffered from the flu this season as we experience a 73% increase from a typical year.

"Muscle aches really bad, serious headaches and unbelievable coughing. I was sick for two weeks," explains Greene.

Dr. Sean Elliott, Professor of Pediatrics at UAMC, says the H1N1 strain that caused the 2009 pandemic is back and may be more prevalent than ever.

"It seems to be more prominent now and there are far more reports of young and healthy adults succumbing or dying from that strain," says Dr. Elliott.

According to Dr. Elliott this year's flu vaccine includes the H1N1 strain. With more than 90% of the confirmed flu cases in Arizona the H1N1 strain it's important to get vaccinated.

"It's more that people haven't been made aware of the fact there is a deadly strain of flu circulating," explains Dr. Elliott.

Recent trends show that we may see this year's flu season peak a little later normal. According to Dr Elliott, Arizona generally reaches its peak in mid January but at the current rate it may be closer to mid February giving plenty of time to get vaccinated.

"We may see a late year this year and if so we'll have a lot more concern in the community," explains Dr. Elliott.

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