PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When Eyewitness News Pinpoint Traffic Reporter Melissa Sardelli isn’t working to help get you to your destination on time, she’s working to keep herself and her family healthy, which has been a challenge as of late.
“It’s been a really difficult flu season already,” Sardelli said Thursday. “It’s been incredibly stressful, exhausting. Everyone in our family has had it.”
The flu has been widespread in Rhode Island for weeks. Recent numbers from the R.I. Department of Health show there have been 444 hospitalizations and nine flu-related adult deaths.
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On a nationwide level, it’s been an extremely active flu season, especially for children and families. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 68 children have died from the flu so far this season and hospitalization rates among children and young adults are higher at this time than in recent years.
Dr. Penelope Dennehy, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, attributed that to the prominent flu strain that’s been going around.
“Influenza B started our season out and we had a very early and rapid rise,” she explained. “Kids haven’t seen it before. It had been relatively uncommon and those of us who have been around for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 years had seen influenza B many times.”
And the season isn’t over yet.
“We’re now seeing influenza A appear,” Dennehy said. “We may have a ‘two-hump season.'”
“Yesterday, my son came home with a fever and we believe he could possibly have the other strain of the flu,” Sardelli added.
The Sardelli family is not alone in their fight. The CDC says about 19 million people have had the flu so far this season.
Of the 68 pediatric deaths nationwide, 45 were associated with the influenza B virus while the remaining 23 were associated with influenza A, according to the CDC.
While the effectiveness of the current flu vaccine is not yet available, the CDC says getting that shot is still the best line of defense against the flu.