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Flu reaches 'widespread' status in Arizona

PHOENIX -- Flu season is picking up across the state.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, flu activity hit "widespread" status this week -- the highest category possible -- with influenza reported in all 15 counties.

"Last week we had an additional 825 cases, bringing us to 2,424 this season," said Dr. Cara Christ, chief medical officer for the AZDHS.

Most of the flu cases across the state and similarly across the nation have been diagnosed at H1N1, the same strain that caused the swine flu scare in 2009.

Christ said the end of January is generally the peak of flu season. However it's normal for lab-confirmed cases of the flu to increase through March.

"If you suddenly feel sick, tired and begin coughing and sneezing, take care of yourself," she said. "Stay home and don't spread the virus to others. If you have a hard time breathing or have chest pains, you probably need to check with your doctor or get immediate help."

Some hospitals such as Phoenix Children's Hospital and Banner Hospitals are restricting access to visitors who may exhibit symptoms of the flu. Christ said hospitals take precautions to protect their patients by limiting the amount of people bringing in influenza.

"It's people with pre-existing conditions with other health conditions that really get infected with influenza."

If you still haven't gotten vaccinated, it's not too late.

"With our community reaching widespread status, this means that flu is circulating and even if you get vaccinated today, it will take two to three weeks to build up antibodies," said Dr. Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

Forty other states reported widespread flu activity last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention influenza season begins in October and carries through September.

A list of flu shot providers is available at stopthespreadaz.org or by calling Community Information and Referral at 211 from anywhere in the state.

For more information about influenza, go to azdhs.gov/flu or contact your health care provider or local health department.

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About the Author


Martha is the traffic controller in the KTAR newsroom. Her full time role is that of Assignment and Breaking News Editor of KTAR News. She oversees daily Breaking News planning and over-the air execution, and puts together the elements that make it happen. She gathers and distributes daily news assignments to reporters and editors. She also reports on a daily basis, anchors news afternoons 1-2p and fills in as anchor occasionally during other time slots. She began working at KTAR in the winter of 2012 as Desk Editor and was promoted to oversee Assignments and Breaking News in 2014. During that time, she received two awards as a journalist. The first was the 2013 APTRA Awards, where she took home 2nd place for Best Serious Future in the "Recycled Orchestra." The second was a 2014 Edward R. Murrow Award for her collaboration in KTAR's Voice for a Better Arizona Series: Immigration - seeking solutions. In her piece, Martha profiled two Arizona sisters looking for the DREAM. Martha was born in Mazatlan, Mexico. She moved to Arizona in 1996 with her parents and younger sister and has lived here since. She attended Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix and graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State University in Tempe. Prior to working at KTAR news she worked in news and production at Univision Arizona in Phoenix. She also supervised the marketing, catering and public relations department at Hotel Araiza, 5-star hotel in Mexicali, Mexico. She has also been a personal trainer and aerobics instructor. When she isn't in the newsroom or behind the microphone Martha is an avid gym-goer and marathoner. She trains for two races a year and enjoys taking group exercise classes, such as kickboxing, indoor cycling and weight lifting. Martha is married and lives in Surprise, AZ with 2 dogs, Tasha and Elsa, and a cat, Sammy.

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